Taking umbrage to certain union ministries failing to seek its concurrence before taking decisions which can affect level playing field during Assembly polls in five states, the Election Commission has asked Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha to ensure that its guidelines on the model code are adhered to strictly.
The Commission specifically mentioned that the Finance Ministry, Niti Aayog and the Defence Ministry “failed” to refer important matters to it during the model code period. The code came into force on January 4 and will last till polls are over.
“The Commission has noted that in certain cases, the ministries/departments took decisions, which have 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 letter said.
Sources in the Commission said the reason behind the January 27 missive to the government was the decision of the Finance Ministry to fix Budget date without seeking its clearance when it was clear that as per the new date, the union budget will be presented when election process in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa will be on.
The poll panel had on January 20 pulled up Niti Aayog for holding special gram sabhas in the five poll-bound states without seeking its permission and said such events can only be organised after the elections are over.
On the same day, it had allowed the Defence Ministry to hold Combined Commanders’ Conference in Uttarakhand with a rider that the Prime Minister, who inaugurated it, would not combine the event with an election rally in the poll-bound state.
Congress had complained to the Commission that BJP may use the event to influence former and serving defence personnel to gain an upper hand in the five poll-bound states.