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The final phase of voting in Gujarat has come to an end and things that are now grabbing the media and public attention are not just the 68.7 per cent voter turnout, but Prime Minister's 'roadshow' in the Ahmedabad constituency. The Opposition is crying foul that this is a breach of the 'model code of conduct', and is also questioning the objectivity of the Election commission.
Senior Congress leaders like P Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor, in a scathing attack on PM Modi, said the BJP blatantly breached the model of conduct. The eaders also targeted the EC for inaction and questioned its impartial nature.
A day before the phase two polling, the EC had issued a notice to Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi for violating Section 126 (1) (b) of R P Act with his interview to a local Gujarati channel.
In a slew of instances, the reports, and accusations of violation of model code of conduct have appeared in not just the Gujarat poll, but also in other state and national polls, as well as local body elections.
A quick explainer on the model code of conduct (MCC) and its guidelines:
The Election commission of India defines MCC as a set of norms that involves the consensus of political parties and the contesting candidates who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the written code. It also binds them to respect in its letter and spirit.
The EC ensures and observes the ruling party at the centre, the state government, and the contesting candidate discharge their duties of conducting a free and fair election under Article 324 of the constitution.
The model code of conduct is enforced from the announcement of the election date and is operational till the process of elections is completed.
- No party or candidate should be involved in any religious or communal activities that can aggravate the peace and harmony in the society.
- No minister should combine their official visit with electioneering work and should not make use of official machinery.
- Canvassing for votes within a distance of 100 meters within the polling station is prohibited on the day of poll.
- The party or the candidate will inform the local police authorities about the venue, time of the proposed meeting.
- On the day of polling, there should not be any obstruction or intervention by the candidate or the party in a poll booth.
- Strict refrain from serving liquor on polling day and 48 hours before that.
- There shall be no appeal to caste or communal votes for securing votes.
- No political party or candidate shall permit its or his follower to make use of individuals' land for erecting flags, banners or any method of promotion.
Several cases of violation of MCC appeared in this Gujarat Assembly Election, too. For instance, PM Modi is said to have flouted MCC when he asked people to vote for BJP after the deadline of the campaign for the first phase was over.
The model code of conduct is also said to have been violated by Patidar firebrand leader Hardik Patel after he defied the local police order and conducted a rally in the Mansa constituency.