NEW DELHI: Even as the Election Commission (EC) gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi's radio programme, Maan ki Baat, the green signal, it shot off a warning to the Cabinet Secretary to rein in the ministries. The EC stinker specifically cited the Union Finance, Defence ministries and NITI Aayog, for violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which is in effect for the five-state elections since Jan 4.
In the latest letter to Union Cabinet Secretary, P.K. Sinha, dated Jan 27, the EC wrote that ''the Commission has noted that in certain cases, the Ministries/Department took decisions, which have (the) effect of disturbing level playing fields of poll bound states, without referring the matter to (the) Commission particularly by NITI Aayog, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance.''
It added: ''The Commission has expressed its concerns in this matter and has directed the undersigned to request you to issue necessary instructions to all ministries/departments of GOI to strictly adhere to the Commission's guidelines issued via EC letter April 23, 2014, and also to ensure ECI concurrence is taken well in time wherever it is needed.''
Though the EC gave permission for the presentation of the Union Budget just four days before the first phase of polling, it had put caveats that no schemes or allocations in relation to poll bound states can be announced.
Sources in the EC said, it was greatly concerned as it found that the Finance Ministry had not even bothered to seek the EC's clearance to undertake the budgetary exercise on a certain date, like the PMO had done for the PM's radio programme, Mann ki Baat.
''The Finance Ministry has gone ahead and fixed the date of Budget without bothering to seek the Commission’s clearance as per the guidelines.''
The Cabinet Secretary citing the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry had ''only placed some of the overall points (on the Budget issue) before the Commission'' in response to its earlier letter.
Similarly, the Defense Ministry on Jan 20 held the Combined Commanders' Conference in poll-bound Uttarakhand ignoring the EC’s guidelines.
The only rider that was provided --''almost as a concessional afterthought'' -- was that the Prime Minister, who inaugurated the Commanders' conference would not combine the event with an election rally in the poll-bound state, EC sources said.
On the same day, NITI Aayog held special gram sabhas in the five poll-bound states without seeking the Commission's permission. This was despite the EC's guideline that such events can only be organised after the elections are over.
The commission’s letter was meant as a warning to the ministries not to follow the footsteps of the violators. Though the Commission can countermand an election invoking MCC, it has only done so once for the Haryana assembly bypoll.