The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the 2019 Lok Sabha poll schedule on March 10 and the voting will take place in seven phases starting from April 11 to May 19, 2019. With the announcement of the election schedule, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come in force which presents the guidelines in conducting the free and fair election in the country. These guidelines give an overview of the political parties and candidates about what to do and what not to before and during the elections. Under the Model Code of Conduct, leaders and political parties are also not allowed to count and showcase their achievements and whatever work they have done during their tenure in the government and if they are caught doing the same, then the Election Commission has the authority to take action against them for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
However, leader across the nation are breaking all the rules and regulations that the MCC has set up by using the public means in their political campaigning, be it Corporators, MLAs, MPs, State Ministers or National Ministers – all are promoting themselves and their political parties by inaugurating shops, schools, and other organisations as well as by sticking their posters, hoardings, and signboards on public places like government and private toilets, in parks, on trees and distributing their pamphlets in public, and above all running ambulances by the name of their political party and helping the people when elections are inching closer so that they can emotionally convince the voters that they are the real leaders and their party is the only outfit which works for the harmony of the society.
The Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India to be followed by both the political parties and candidates contesting the elections. The MCC is a set of instructions on complaining, general conduct and meetings during the election and it remains effective till the entire election process is completed. This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution which gives power to the EC to supervise the elections to the Parliament and the state legislatures. The MCC came into force after the Election Commission declares the election schedule, however, for the general elections this year, the MCC came into force on March 10, 2019, when the election schedule was announced and will remain in force till May 23, 2019 – when the final result will be declared.
Maharashtra’s first woman Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan said, “The Chief Election Commissioner must take action against erring political parties. He must ask the Chief Electoral Officer and Collector to prevent these activities. If political parties are promoting themselves through these manners then what is the use of the Model Code of Conduct. Notices are sent to political parties and even their registration can be cancelled and leaders can be disqualified.”
The Model Code of Conduct briefs many guidelines among which the most important are – there shall not be any appeal to the caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples and other religious places shall not be used as a forum for the election propaganda. Candidates shall avoid themselves from criticising other political parties, their past records and works as well as all aspects of their private life and workers based on unverified allegations or distortion. Ministers and other authorities shall not sanction grants / payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced by the Commission; Ministers and other authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof or (except civil servants) lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind; or make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities, etc. or make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.
Gandhi Sarvodaya Mandal President Jayant Dewan said, “Politicians must first understand that the funds used for development belong to the public. I don’t know why politicians are involved in self-promotion by putting their party’s photographs on ambulance, lavatory, and dustbins. Since the Lok Sabha polls are just around the corner, hence, the Model Code of Conduct is in force and they should stop such activities.”
Whereas the ground reality seems to be totally different as reports stated, political parties are promoting their agenda through various public mean. Name of politicians and their party is written on the dustbins, tables and benches of the public parks, sign boards are hanged on trees, ambulances are running on the road and helping the citizens in their medical aid, year calendars of political parties are being distributed in markets, posters, pamphlets, and digital displays are visible on bus stands, and above all, politicians are spreading propaganda openly without bothering about the Model Code of Conduct and the political parties don’t seem to be in a mood to take any action.
National activist Dr. Kumar Saptarshi said, “Those who are in power should not announce any welfare schemes violating the Model Code of Conduct. They must not take benefit of essential services like ambulance. People had voted BJP in power for serving them. Whether election is there or not, the government must not use essential services for promoting themselves. PM Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every Indian citizen’s account. People should protest against leaders making false promises.”