Parl panel to review model code & pre-polls practices


FILE | A view of the Indian Parliament. Photo: PTI

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for polls is under review by a Parliamentary Committee, which will suggest ways to check use of cash and other freebies to lure voters during the elections.

“We have begun an exercise to study the working of the Model Code of Conduct. The Committee is visiting three states to talk to various stake holders about it. Soon we will cover other states too,” said E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, chairman of Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.

He said the panel had, in an earlier report submitted three years ago, recommended reducing the time between enforcement of the model code and the day of polling. “It is now for the government and Election commission to work on that proposition,” he said.

Natchiappan said the panel has suggested that the MCC should come into force from the date of notification and not the announcement of election schedule.

“It (the proposal) is pending with the government. It is to be looked into quickly to avoid the frustration of people over non-implementation of the recommendation of the Committee for the past three years,” he said.

The Committee has also decided to suggest ways to check distribution of cash and freebies ahead of the polls. The move comes after it took cognizance of the cancellation of polls in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies in Tamil Nadu recently following evidence of use of money and gifts to influence the voters.

“This will be an exercise to protect democracy and fair play and to ensure people’s faith in the election process. It is for the Parliamentary Standing Committee to suggest ways to check distribution of cash and freebies during the elections after an in depth study and interactions with stakeholders,” told Natchiappan.

He said the observers appointed by the Centre face certain hurdles and the panel will discuss with stakeholders ways to ensure fair elections.

File photo of EMS Natchiappan. Photo: PTI

File photo of EMS Natchiappan.
Photo: PTI

“The central government appoints observers for a poll bound state to check such activities. But at times things can be beyond their control for the fact that they are outsiders and may not know the local ways of distribution of cash, freebies and other irregularities . . . . We will work on ways to ensure that the democratic process in the world’s largest democracy is conducted without any allegations of rigging and in a fair manner,” said Natchiappan, a Rajya Sabha member from Tamil Nadu.

He said the panel had last year tabled its report in both Houses of Parliament which favoured holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

“From media reports we know the government is seriously considering the recommendation. But the final call has to be taken by Parliament and the government after a wider debate,” he said.

Natchiappan, whose term as MP ends later this month, said the panel will meet on June 28 to decide on submission of its findings.