The model code of conduct came into force on Thursday in poll-bound Telangana following an Election Commission directive that henceforth the guidelines would be implemented immediately after early dissolution of a Legislative Assembly.
Earlier, the restrictions came into force only after the announcement of the election schedule by the Commission. The code will continue in effect till the completion of election for a new Assembly.
The TRS government in Telangana had prematurely dissolved the Assembly earlier this month.
Binding on Centre also
Following the Commission’s order, as communicated to the Cabinet Secretariat and all Chief Secretaries, apart from the caretaker government, the government at the Centre and other States are also bound by the Code.
“The Election Commission is committed to providing a level-playing field to all the parties and candidates wherever elections are imminent. The order is applicable to the entire country,” Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said.
The Commission has drawn on legal backing for the directive from the Supreme Court’s observation in the landmark S R Bommai and Others Vs. Union of India and Others (1994) judgment that the caretaker government should merely carry on day-to-day work and desist from taking any major policy decision.
The provisions of Part-VII of the model code of conduct, which is for the party in power, will “apply on the caretaker State government as well as on the Central government in so far as matters relating to that State are concerned”, according to the order.
EC sources said the electoral body had received congratulatory messages from several political parties after the order was issued.
After early dissolution of the Legislative Assembly, neither the caretaker State government nor the Centre can announce any new schemes or projects in respect of the poll-bound State or undertake any of the activities prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct.
“All other prohibitions under Part-VII, such as use of official resources for any non-official purposes, combining of official visit with electioneering work, etc. shall apply on all ministers and other authorities of the caretaker State government, the Central government as well as governments of other States,” said the order.
In view of the coming elections in Telangana and the other four States of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh, the Commission on Wednesday held a meeting with the Union Home Secretary on availability and deployment of security forces.