Denial of permission to Pinarayi Vijayan kicks up a row

Chief Electoral Officer denies permission citing procedural lapse; Govt directs Consumerfed managing director to launch the project

Published: 07th May 2019 05:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th May 2019 05:52 AM   |  A+A-

Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan (File | EPS)

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The state Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) decision to deny permission to the Chief Minister to inaugurate Consumerfed’s student market in Thiruvananthapuram has triggered a controversy. The state had sought the CEO’s permission for inaugurating the project, which envisages opening markets for the students at 600 select places across the state from May 6 to 30, in the backdrop of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in force in the state in connection with the general elections. However, the CEO denied permission to the CM citing procedural lapse. 

The CEO’s office on Monday clarified it is not fair to portray the Election Commission (EC) denied the CM permission. The CEO’s office had received a letter signed by a junior officer from the Consumerfed seeking permission in this regard. The CEO’s office replied if a letter signed by the Chief Secretary or Cooperative Secretary is submitted, it can consider giving permission to the CM, the office stated.

Commenting on this, Cooperation Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the state could not afford hanging the future of the project in balance over MCC issue since the project aimed at providing basic items like notebooks, bags, tiffin box, and other study materials to students at a discount of around 40 per cent than the market rate. So, the department directed Consumerfed chairman M Mehaboob to inaugurate the project on Monday evening, he said. 

When the department contacted the CEO’s office, it replied in states where poll procedure is over, the EC used to provide relaxations. But the CEO’s office didn’t get any such orders from the EC so far. 
However, when it turned into a controversy, the CEO’s office adopted a stance if a letter signed by Chief Secretary or Department Secretary is provided, giving permission for inaugurating the project by CM can be considered, which is a lame excuse, Kadakampally said.

SEC rejects CEO proposal to disqualify bogus voting accused
The state election commission (SEC) on Monday rejected the recommendation of chief electoral officer Teek Ram Meena to disqualify CPM panchayat member N P Saleena, who allegedly cast bogus vote at the booth in Pilathara in Kannur during the polling in the Kasaragod LS constituency. The CEO had recommended since the preliminary investigation found Saleena guilty of casting bogus vote, she should be disqualified.

But the SEC said if an elected representative was convicted on charges of impersonation or violating code of conduct, the person cannot be disqualified. It said the SEC cannot suo motu begin proceedings for disqualifying an elected people representative unless there is complaint filed by an elected member of the governing body of the local body concerned or a person from the panchayat with voting right before the EC.

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