Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Model Code of Conduct
Post the announcement of General elections or Legislative elections by the Election Commission of India, Model Code of Conduct applies in the relevant area.
MCC is some sort of gentleman’s agreement in common parlance. It was framed by all political parties to guide themselves and to conduct themselves along with election management authorities like state election commission and national election commission.
It lays down the rules of the game to guide all the state holders- candidates, political parties, officials and others.
The code prohibits parties and candidates from indulging in activities that can cause tension between people of regions, castes, communities or religions.
Places like temples, mosques, churches or other places of worship should not be used for election propaganda.
Parties must ensure their supporters do not obstruct functions other parties organize.
Removal of another party’s poster is considered a code violation.
It disallows comments on private lives of leaders or workers of other parties
No party or candidate is permitted to use any individual’s land, building, compound wall etc without permission, to erect flag-staffs, suspend banners, paste notices, write slogans etc.
Voters are not to be intimidated or bribed to vote for a party or candidate.
Restrictions on ruling party
The code ensures a party in power, at Centre or in state, cannot use official machinery or personnel for electioneering. Thus, use of government transport, official aircraft and other vehicles, for poll campaign is barred.
Poll-related advertisement at the cost of public money and misuse of official mass media for coverage of political news and publicity is not allowed.
sanctioning grants and related payments out of discretionary funds is prohibited
Ministers and politicians are barred from laying foundation stones of new projects.
Recruitments or their announcements are disallowed.
It is unique system developed by India which is extremely beneficial. Normally all the stakeholders-political parties, candidates, government officials abide by the MCC.
Though public does feel sometime that MCC is violated by few through paid news, extravagant expenditures, bribing voters. Even if somebody violates it, not much is done. People involved in election management authority- may be at district level or return officer level or state level, are not totally ineffective.
However, it also depends on how the matter is picked up. Such incidences are sparsely occurring during elections.
Budget and elections
The opposition was of the opinion that government should not be allowed to present the budget after the announcement of elections as it would skew the level playing field. But such a debate is irrelevant as a union budget is going to be represented which pertains to the nation rather than states.
Every year elections are conducted in India with state and general elections spread over 5 years. At no point of time there will be an opportunity to escape the budget. Thus, the ECI has to just observe that no announcement is made that violates the MCC.
The doubt with the budget presentation is that the ruling party might misuse the position. The MCC has evolved to ensure that ruling power should not abuse their power and position at the detriment of opposition or other governments. The ruling party should provide a level playing field during the elections. Any action which deviates any particular activity which normally disturbs the rule of game should not be attempted.
Use of government machinery
One part of MCC also is how can the government machinery be used or not or the benefits and infrastructure of people and things should be brought to work. This is to create a level playing field. Any government, whether at centre or state, when it does good things over the period of five years, will get benefits out of it. But when it does something that is perceived as wrong or is wrong, then there will be negative reactions. MCC insists that government does not misuse its authority by appropriating things under its control. Sanction of new projects, roads, hospitals, educational institutions and other public assets which is going to benefit particular section of society are disallowed. But MCC never says not to continue with existing schemes.
In one of the state of northeast, the money from MPLADS is not spent for three and half years and entire 5 crores is spent in remaining one and half years of election. So this is misusing of position and using money for one’s personal benefit. Things like this should be stopped so as to give everyone a fair chance to win.
There are number of elections in India- Panchayat elections, local body elections, zila panchayat elections, municipal elections, cooperative elections. Repeated elections causes disruption of public life, budget, economy and too much expenditure. Thus it needs to have a viable solution.
The case of simultaneous elections has emerged once again. The Election Commission has supported the possibility of the move along with PM’s favour to the same. Once all elections are held together, after the mammoth election process is over, the government will get a clear four years in which to carry out important reforms.
It is debated that voters get confused since national and state-level elections are quite different. But ideally it shouldn’t happen since voters are quite savvy—in 2014, in any case, elections to Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim took place along with the general elections and there weren’t same results.
On a thought, elections to states can be clubbed together but held within six months of the general elections. Though a larger discussion will bring out more solutions to the suggestion.
Connecting the dots:
What do you understand by the Model Code of Conduct. Discuss its significance and drawbacks.