The enforcement of the model code of conduct have taken away the sheen of Himachal Day celebrations this time, with governor Urmila Singh asked to preside over the state-level main function at the historic Ridge grounds here, instead of chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
The Election Commission has disregarded the state government’s request to allow the chief minister to preside over the function on April 15 as per tradition.
The state government had sought permission from the Election Commission to celebrate Himachal Day. However, sources told HT that the Election Commission had turned down its request, citing the model code of conduct.
Earlier, the state had drawn plans to mark Himachal Day with fanfare. According to the plan, the CM was to preside over the state-level function, while cabinet ministers would preside over the district-level functions. Now, instead of ministers, the deputy commissioners would preside over the district-level functions on April 15.
Chief electoral officer Narender Chauhan had sought clarification from the Election Commission on the state government’s proposal, but the Commission, wishing to ensure that the poll code was not violated during the celebrations, listed certain conditions.
It was of the opinion that the CM should strictly stick to the speech on Himachal Day and not make any statement that could influence the electorate. According to the poll code, ministers and the legislators cannot share dais with the CM at government functions.
In the past, governments have usually announced new people-centric scheme during the Himachal Day celebrations. Before allowing the celebrations, the Commission wanted to ensure that no hoarding publicising government policies and programmes were put up at the venues at the district headquarters.