The government was earlier told not to implement the direct cash transfer scheme and now the election commission has told second time in recent weeks to hold in abeyance the oblique announcement that the cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders will be raised to nine from six.
The gas cylinder cap announcement is a coincidence not an innocent remark. Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily is a scholar, and has been a chief minister and union law minister. He knew very well what he was talking. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function on Tuesday, Moily said, "I think it (cap on LPG) is likely to go up definitely from six to nine (cylinders)." He added, the Cabinet would take up the issue for consideration "very shortly".
His comments came on the last day of campaigning for Gujarat's first phase of polling.
Since Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been appealing to the middle class, the LPG gas cylinder fits into the budget of middle class household and a perfect inducement devised by the Congress. May be, the whole episode of putting a cap few months ago and removing it on the eve of an important election seems to have been scripted by the Congress think tank.
What next? Like a robotic response, the EC made its displeasure known. The commission had found a prima facie case of violation of Model Code of Conduct in Gujarat Congress President Arjun Modhwadia's remarks against Modi. The EC had also cautioned Congress leader and former minister Shankersinh Vaghela over his hate speeches in Surat. Vaghela had earlier been served a notice for "making objectionable and inflammatory speech which can incite and induce communal hatred".
What is Model Code of Conduct:
The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
The Election Commission ensures its observance by political party(ies) in power, including ruling parties at the Centre and in the States and contesting candidates in the discharge of its constitutional duties for conducting the free, fair and peaceful elections to the Parliament and the State Legislatures under Article 324 of the Constitution of India.
It is also ensured that official machinery for the electoral purposes is not misused. Further, it is also ensured that electoral offences, malpractices and corrupt practices such as impersonation, bribing and inducement of voters, threat and intimidation to the voters are prevented by all means. In case of violation, appropriate measures are taken.
Read the last line. It says appropriate measures will be taken. We are sorry to say that since the time the code became a sort of stick to discipline politicians under TN Seshan, there have negligible punishment of code violators. Most of the incorrigible politicians escape with minor rap or a notice. Little is achieved by notices or official reprimands as the LPG announcement is already out of the bag. It cannot be removed from the conscious mind of a voter.
Time has come to take a relook at the code of conduct. Either scrap it completely or enforce it with an iron hand.
The first phase of polling in Gujarat is slated for Dec 13.