With the State Election Commission (SEC) announcing the first leg of ‘mini Assembly’ polls, the model code of conduct has come into force, which will continue for around the next five months. After elections for the municipal councils and nagar panchayats, which will begin from November 27, are over, the polls for municipal corporations, district councils and panchayat samitis will occur in subsequent months. This means the state government won’t be allowed to take policy decisions in order to not influence the voters.
The SEC on Monday announced the elections for 212 municipal councils and nagar panchayats that will be held in four phases between November 27, 2016 and January 8, 2017 in 33 districts of the state. The first phase will witness the elections for 165 councils and nagar panchayats in 25 districts, while the subsequent phases will have elections on December 14 (14 councils and NPs in 2 districts), December 18 (22 councils and NPs in 4 districts) and January 8 (11 councils and NPs in two districts).
Though the code of conduct in the respective districts will come to an end immediately after the results are declared, the government will not be able to announce any policy decision owing to the code of conduct in force in other districts as well. Moreover, elections for 26 district councils, 296 panchayat samitis and 10 municipal corporations are also scheduled to be held in the subsequent months.
"The elections are due till next March-April, but we have decided to complete the election procedure by end of February to avoid them clashing with the schools and colleges’ exams. The government will not be able to announce any policy decisions influencing the voters where the elections are being held. I had written to the state government in January this year telling them about our plans of holding the elections and instructing them to plan the decision process accordingly," JS Saharia told HT.
The continuous elections in almost all districts is expected cripple the decision making system of the government. The first direct impact will be on the ongoing campaign of the second anniversary of the Fadnavis government. The government began its second anniversary campaign seven days ago. The SEC has clarified that the government will not be able to run its campaign in the districts where the code of conduct is in force. “For the council and nagar panchayat elections, there will be no code of conduct in Mumbai and Thane. It will be partially in force in seven other districts including Palghar, Dhule, Nandurbar," Saharia said. He added that the government will be able to launch infrastructure projects such as Metro lines or perform bhoomipujan of Shivaji statue in Mumbai when there is no code of conduct in force in the city.