Model code of conduct, who cares?

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and senior Akali-BJP leaders on Sunday violated the code of conduct in force due to the municipal corporation elections in Jalandhar city.
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Updated on May 28, 2012 02:38 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Jasdeep Singh Malhotra, Jalandhar

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and senior Akali-BJP leaders on Sunday violated the code of conduct in force due to the municipal corporation elections in Jalandhar city.

Badal, during a stopover at Jalandhar city in the morning, disregarded the law when he used a sports utility vehicle (SUV) fitted with a red beacon.

Soon after landing at the Punjab Armed Police helipad, Badal, along with former education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Punjab Markfed chairman Jarnail Singh Wahid, boarded the beacon-fitted vehicle.

Badal met the editor of a daily Punjabi newspaper and returned back to the helipad in the same vehicle before flying to Seechewal village, where Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal hosted a religious function for him.

Later, Bhagat and Sekhwan violated the code even more blatantly. The duo addressed an election meeting for candidature of Akali candidate and deputy mayor Parvesh Tangri from ward no 50 right in the middle of the road.

The minister remained at the venue for over an hour. Tangri, the organiser of the political show, had blocked the road since morning. More than 200 residents participated in the meeting, pledging support to Tangri.

The violators may face legal action for blocking the road under section 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) of the IPC and section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC.

SAD-BJP meeting organisers also stole power by connecting loud speakers and pedestal fans, directly from Powercom's electricity poles. The Powercom police station may also register an FIR against the ruling combine leaders. It is also possible that the leaders may be billed for the electricity consumed.

Billboards carrying pictures of Badal, Bhagat and Tangri were also seen installed at a public park. This could also invite action against the candidate and the party under the provisions of the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Public Properties Act. The flags and plastic buntings of the ruling combine parties were also seen hoisted on electricity polls in the street.

As this was not enough, the minister, in his address, virtually "cautioned" the gathering to not vote in favour of any other candidate except for Tangri. He hinted that development work might be stalled in the ward due to possible lack of "co-ordination" between the new councillor (of any other party) and the SAD-BJP government.

Tangri also violated the poll code by referring to the Congressmen as thieves, characterless and robbers.

He stated: "40 Sikhs executed Muslims in Muktsar. Sikhs used to attack Muslims at midnight as part of guerilla war tactics. Similarly, we need to attack Congressmen in guerrilla fashion to secure a victory in these elections." This statement runs amok of the election code guideline that states that politicians must refrain from speeches during electioneering that cause hatred amongst the communities.

The minister Bhagat later left the venue travelling in his personal Innova car bearing registration number PB 08 DY 0215 with red beacon atop, another violation of the code.

Three security guards, including an assistant sub-inspector attached with the minister too violated the code by travelling in an official gypsy fitted with red beacon. Only police officers of the senior superintendent of police rank and above are entitled to use red beacon. Sekhwan was found moving with a pilot vehicle fitted with a red beacon.

The code also bars a minister or political functionary from using an official gypsy and the security guard during electioneering and terms the same as misuse of official machinery.

BJP leader and chief parliamentary secretary KD Bhandari was using a private vehicle, but his security guards were seen breaking the code and accompanied him in an official gypsy.

When contacted, district election officer, Priyank Bharti said that he would seek a report of all such violations from the returning officers concerned. "Appropriate legal action, including issuance of show-cause notices will be initiated against violators on the basis of reports."

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