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Lok Sabha election dates: What is Model Code of Conduct?

By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
Mar 16, 2024 02:56 PM IST

Model Code of Conduct is a set of norms for political parties and candidates, enforced by Election Commission of India, to create a "level playing field".

The Election Commission of India (ECI) said it would announce the dates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections at 3 pm on Saturday. Following the announcement of the election date, the Model Code of Conduct will be enforced in the whole country until the announcement of results. This would significantly alter the normal functioning of the government. Here's what will change:

Election Commission of India will announce Lok Sabha 2024 schedule on Saturday.(REUTERS)
Election Commission of India will announce Lok Sabha 2024 schedule on Saturday.(REUTERS)

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What is a Model Code of Conduct?

Under its constitutional authority to ensure free and fair elections, the ECI has evolved the Model Code of Conduct, which establishes norms for political parties and candidates. The objective is to create a "level playing field".

ALSO READ- When will Lok Sabha 2024 elections start?

What changes with the enforcement of MCC? Top 10

Restrictions on government announcements:

• Ministers and other authorities are prohibited from announcing any financial grants or making promises thereof once the elections are announced, the election panel's guidelines say.

• After Lok Sabha election dates are announced, they are also restricted from laying foundation stones or initiating projects or schemes of any kind, except civil servants.

• Promises related to the construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities, etc., are not permitted during this period.

• Ad-hoc appointments in government or Public Undertakings that could influence voters in favour of the ruling party are prohibited.

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Discretionary funds and official visits:

• With the announcement of the Lok Sabah election schedule, ministers and other authorities cannot sanction grants or payments from discretionary funds once the elections are announced.

Use of government resources:

• After the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, official visits shall not be combined with electioneering work, and the use of official machinery or personnel for electioneering is strictly prohibited, the ECI guidelines say.

• Government transport, including official aircraft, vehicles, machinery, and personnel, cannot be used to further the interests of the ruling party during elections.

• Public places like maidens for holding election meetings and helipads for air flights must be accessible to all parties and candidates on the same terms and conditions.

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Accommodation and campaigning:

• Rest houses, dak bungalows, or other government accommodations should not be monopolised by the ruling party or its candidates, the ECI says. But using them as campaign offices or for holding public meetings for election propaganda by any party is prohibited, the poll body adds.

Avoidance of partisan coverage:

• The Election Commission of India prohibits the issue of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in newspapers and other media during the election period. Misuse of official mass media for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements to favour the ruling party should be strictly avoided, MCC guidelines note.

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What if a party or candidate violates MCC?

The MCC does not have legal enforceability on its own. Nevertheless, specific provisions within it may find enforcement through corresponding clauses in other statutes, including the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951.

Additionally, the ECI holds authority under paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968 to suspend or withdraw a party's recognition.

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