Model code violation will not be tolerated, no matter who does it: CEC

Responding to a query by National Herald, chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the Commission would not spare anyone, "however high they are", if found guilty of poll code violation

CEC Rajiv Kumar (photo: PTI)
CEC Rajiv Kumar (photo: PTI)

Ashlin Mathew

The Election Commission of India on Saturday, 16 March, said that violation of the model code of conduct by anyone, however high in position, will not be tolerated, as the poll panel announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha elections.

Responding to a question by National Herald, chief election commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said, “Wherever there’s a violation established, we will not sit back. We will take action – whosoever the person is, however high they are.” He was speaking at a press conference to announce the general election dates along with the two newly appointed election commissioners – Sukhbir Singh Sandhu and Gyanesh Kumar.

The reply came as NH pointed out that in the past elections in recent years, the poll panel had desisted from taking action against senior government functionaries—including the prime minister and the Union home minister—despite complaints of them allegedly violating the model code of conduct.

However, CEC Kumar insisted that the Commission would not spare anyone.

In 2019, however, the ECI had acted differently when it dismissed several complaints of model code violations by Prime Minister Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah in their speeches.

Ashok Lavasa was the sole election commissioner who had refused to give a clean chit to Modi and Shah in the matter of electoral process violations.

Lavasa is said to have dissented in as many as 11 EC decisions involving complaints against Modi and Shah for alleged MCC violation. The duo were let off in all the instances.

What’s more, the Commission had refused to take Lavasa’s dissent on record. A few months later, Lavasa had quit the commission in questionable circumstances.

On Saturday, the ECI issued advisory to political parties underlining that the campaigning should be issue-based with no hate speeches, no caste or religious appeals and no criticism of any aspect of private life. The poll panel also advised the parties to show restraint in social media posts.

To another question on the immediate resignation of election commissioner Arun Goel, the CEC said his former colleague resigned on personal grounds and that his privacy should be respected. He gave the same reason when he was asked electoral bonds.

"Mr Arun was a distinguished member of our team and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him all the time. But in every institution somebody will have to be given the personal space and it is insensitive to ask personal questions," said Kumar.

Speaking about the funds being donated to political parties, the poll body chief said they do make public the accounts of parties and the expenditures of candidates. Then, he went on to support privacy of the donors.

The Supreme Court had last month asked the State Bank of India to give the EC all the details regarding those who purchased electoral bonds.

When a question was asked about polling in Manipur in light of the ethnic clashes in the state since May 3 last year, the CEC said given the displacement and volatility on the ground, Manipur will go to polls twice.

“The Commission has found that a large number of electors registered in different constituencies of Manipur have been displaced from their native places during the conflict. They are now residing in relief camps in various districts of Manipur. The Commission, after due consultation with various stake holders, has decided that special polling stations shall be set up at/near the camps where such electors, who opt for such facility, will be able to register their votes in EVMs,” said Kumar.

Kumar added that a detailed scheme for the state's internally displaced persons to vote in relief camps had been issued by the Commission on February 29.


The poll schedule

The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, with the first phase of voting on April 19 and the last phase of voting on June 1. The results will be announced on June 4.

Assembly elections in four states — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh — will also happen during this period.

However, elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly have not been announced. The CEC said that it was not possible to announce it along with Lok Sabha election in the Union Territory as it was not possible to provide protection to each and every candidate this time.

“All political parties in Jammu and Kashmir said the Assembly election should be held along with the parliamentary polls, but the state administration said it cannot be done simultaneously. Every Assembly segment would have 10-12 candidates, which would mean more than 1,000 candidates. Every candidate has to be provided forces. It was not possible at this time,” said Kumar.

In the first phase, elections to 102 constituencies will take place, 89 in the second phase, 94 in the third phase, 96 in fourth, 49 in fifth, 57 in sixth and 57 in seventh phase.

Poll Schedule:

Phase 1 (April 19): Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

Phase 2 (April 26): Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka (south), Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir

Phase 3 (May 7): Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Jammu and Kashmir

Phase 4 (May 13): Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir

Phase 5 (May 20): Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

Phase 6 (May 25): Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Delhi

Phase 7 (June 1): Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Chandigarh

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