VARIOUS POPULIST projects of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had to be put on hold. This happened after the Model Code of Conduct came into force with the notification of local bodies’ election by the government yesterday.
The populist projects included distribution of cheques under the ambitious Kanya Dhan Yojna, unemployment allowance & two sarees to each of 1.25 crore women living below the poverty line. Now, the government will be at the mercy of the State Election Commission (SEC) to organise any function. The government would be required to take SEC’s approval to conduct any activity that could affect the voters, according to one of the top officials of the SEC.
According to the SEC officials, the Model Code of Conduct technically comes into effect from the day the SEC issues a separate order for the same. But the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India (ECI) observed that the Model Code of Conduct should be treated as ‘enforced’ from the day of notification of election.
The local bodies’ election process which includes polling for the ward members and chairmen of Nagar Nigams, Nagar Palikas and Nagar Panchayats, started with the issuance of the notification on September 21. The process would be completed in November and till then, the Model Code of Conduct would remain in force, said the SEC sources.
Meanwhile, the SEC, which was expected to issue the local bodies’ election notification here on Saturday, deferred it to September 25 for ‘unknown reasons’. The SEC, which received 13,000 complaints of violation of the Code of Conduct in the last Panchayat elections, directed the government to refrain from announcing any new project. Even foundation-laying ceremonies were not allowed.
No minister would be allowed to visit the areas where elections would be held, said one of the senior most officers of the SEC. He said elections at more 20 places, where the ministers visited in their official cars bid to influence voters, were cancelled.
However, the SEC had allowed distribution of cheques under the Kanya Dhan Yajana during the Panchayat elections at certain places. But it put a rider that no politician would participate in a function where cheques would be distributed. Besides, it also said that the cheques would be distributed by district officials.
A senior officer of the SEC told HT that there were various pre-announced activities or functions, including holding of review meetings and observing various ‘days (like paryavaran diwas).’ It would be at the discretion of the SEC to allow those functions. The SEC had issued two sets of eight-page each containing model code of conduct in the last Panchayat elections with a warning that a legal action would be taken against those who would be found guilty of violating the code.
A similar code is likely to be issued for the local bodies’ elections.