Rajasthan Governor's Call To Re-Elect Modi As PM Violates Poll Code, Says Election Commission
The Election Commission (EC) is to write a letter to the President Ram Nath Kovind in regard to Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh’s comment that was made while he was interacting with BJP party workers in his Aligarh’s residence. In his speech, Singh described himself as BJP ‘karyakarta (member)’ and said that PM Modi should be re-elected to power. The election watchdog said that it is a concerning issue and believed that with such a comment the Governor has violated the Model Code Of Conduct(MCC) and brought down the “prestige of the high office occupied by him”.
What has happened?
On March 23, while meddling an internal squabble among the BJP workers over the candidature of Satish Gautam from Aligarh Lok Sabha constituency, Kalyan Singh told the party workers, “Hum sabhi log BJP ke karyakarta hain aur iss naatey se hum zaroor chahenge ki BJP vijayi ho. Sab chahengey ek baar phir kendra mein Mojiji Pradhan Mantri banein” (All of us are BJP workers and we want the party to win. We want Modiji to become the Prime Minister. It is necessary that Modiji becomes the PM again).
EC after being apprised of the incident had asked a factual report from the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). The election watchdog after receiving a transcript from CEO substantiated that the Governor had indeed referred to himself as “one among BJP karyakartas”. The EC after pondering over the mater has said that it is best the President who appoints the governor takes further action.
After 2 decades, a Governor violates Model Code Conduct
A Governor enjoys a constitutional post which is ‘apolitical’ in nature and the job requires him/her to be neutral. It bars him/her from endorsing any political party or a person. Governor comment as such is against the Indian constitution.
Keeping history as a witness, the last time a governor found guilty of violating the provisions of the MCC happened almost two decades ago. Governor of Himachal Pradesh Gulsher Ahmed in 1993 was seen campaigning and cheering for his son Sayeed Admed in the constituency from where he was contesting. After the EC held the Governor accountable for using his power to support his son, Ahmed subsequently resigned from the Governor’s post.
What is MCC?
The Model Code Of Conduct is a set of guidelines which regulate political parties and its candidates to ensure free and fair polls. The Election Commission derives its powers from Article 324 of the Constitution which allows it to monitor the central and state governments as well as the political parties and their candidates.
The MCC provisions deal with a myriad of issues ranging from speeches, management of elections, polling booths, portfolios, the content of election manifestos, among others.
What happens after MCC kick-in?
- The party in power, both in the centre and states, should ensure that it does not use its official position for campaigning.
- The ruling party is prohibited from announcing any new scheme or policy or make ad-hoc appointments which may sway public voting behaviour in their favour.
- The party must refrain from advertising at the cost of the public exchequer or using official media for publicity.
- Ministers are barred from combining official visits with election work and the ruling party cannot use government transport for campaigning.
- The facilities that the ruling party enjoys for campaigning must also be extended to opposition parties as well.
- Issuing advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer is also considered to be an offence.
- The political parties have to steer clear from using places of religious significance for election propaganda.
- Bribing and intimidating voters is barred and political parties cannot hold public meeting during the 48-hour period before the poll. This 48-hour-period is also known as the “election silence.”