EC tells ministers not to engage in campaigning


Mar 2, 2017-The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday made it clear that sitting ministers cannot engage in campaigns for local level polls scheduled for May 14 as the election code of conduct has already come into force.

“You can reach the district headquarters but you cannot go to village councils and municipal councils for campaigning,” Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav told the ministers at a meeting with them at the EC headquarters on Wednesday. “We have instructed chief district officers (CDOs) as well,” he said. He even warned that flouting poll code of conduct could be costly to the candidates of their parties. 

Minister for Defence Bal Krishna Khand said ministers and political leaders play an important role in creating electoral environment and that they should not be barred from campaigning. “Instead, it is better to set some guidelines on using number of vehicles that are at their disposal at state’s expense,” he said. 

CEC Yadav also made it clear that use of the helicopters for election campaigns has been completely banned. 

“We have asked helicopter operators to submit their flight schedules on a daily basis to prevent their potential use for election campaigning,” he said.

During the interaction, ministers also asked whether they would be allowed to inaugurate any public events or lay foundation stones of certain development projects. 

The EC, however, responded negatively. 

As per code of conduct, neither the government nor public institutions and local bodies can declare, approve or start any new policy, plan and programme once the code of conduct comes into force. The government is also barred from creating new posts and opening vacancies. Nor will it be allowed to award or extend facilities to officials. Transfers of officials must be put on hold.

But, many ministers asked what if certain posts remain vacant under regular process and fulfillment of such positions is important. Minister complained that works in the development projects could be stalled if transfers of officials are barred.

Many ministers also complained the provision about the use of vehicles saying that limitation is very low and not practical.  Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Hitraj Pandey said that the EC should not tighten the code of conduct in papers but also see whether the provision was practical for implementation.

Deputy Prime Ministers Bimalendra Nidhi and Krishna Bahadur Mahara assured the EC that ministers would adhere to the election code of conduct. They however asked the EC not to stop regular activities of the government but it could stop any new programme introduced by the government. 

Published: 02-03-2017 08:31

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