The poll code came into force on January 4 and will last till the polls are over.
New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday gave its go ahead to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address despite the Mode Code of Conduct being in place, but slammed some government departments like the ministries of finance and defence and the Niti Ayog for failing to seek its permission before holding similar decisions, which can affect the level-playing field during Assembly polls in five states.
Specifically mentioning the finance ministry, Niti Aayog and defence ministry, the EC said they “failed” to refer important matters to it, despite the poll code being in effect. The poll code came into force on January 4 and will last till the polls are over.
“The Election Commission has noted that in certain cases, the ministries/departments took decisions, which have the effect of disturbing level-playing field of poll-bound states, without referring the matter to the Commission, particularly by Niti Aayog, ministry of defence and ministry of finance,” the poll body said in a letter to Cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha.
The reason behind the strongly worded letter seemed to be the finance ministry’s decision to fix the Budget date without seeking its clearance when it was clear that as per the new date, the Union budget will be presented when the election process in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa will be on.
On January 20, the poll panel had pulled up the Niti Aayog for holding special Gram Sabhas in the five poll-bound states without seeking its permission. It had also given permission to the defence ministry to hold Combined Commanders’ Conference in Uttarakhand with the rider that the PM, who inaugurated it, would not combine the event with an election rally in the poll-bound state.
The ‘Mann Ki Baat’ show got the EC approval after the government approached it seeking its permission to continue to hold the show during the poll time. Pertinent that this time, the focus of ‘Mann ki baat’ will be the Class 10 and 12 board exams, which will commence from March 9.