In a letter, late last week, to the three-member Commission on October 21, retired IAS officer E A S Sarma had formally complained to the Election Commission of India (ECI) stating that “the instructions issued by the Department of Personnel on October 17 to all ministries to nominate officers as ‘district rath prabharis’ was a ‘brazen infringement’ of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).” The Department of Personnel, incidentally comes directly under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The Election Commission after receiving this Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation complaint regarding the government’s plan to involve bureaucrats in a “yatra” to showcase the Narendra Modi government’s achievements, has decided to examine it, sources told the newspaper on October 23, Monday.
The EC had “just received the complaint” and would “look into it”, a top official said.
Referencing an October 14 order, the Union Agriculture Ministry had also made plans for holding a nationwide “Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra” from November 20 to January 26 to create awareness about the Modi’s government’s work over the past nine years even as the EC on October 9 announced Assembly poll schedule in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana.
The MCC came into force from the time polls were announced on October 9.
In a short but strongly worded letter to the three-member Commission on October 21, retired IAS officer E A S Sarma said the instructions issued by the Department of Personnel on October 17 to all ministries to nominate officers as “district rath prabharis” was a “brazen infringement” of the MCC. He also said that the instructions would be a misuse of government machinery for influencing voters. Sarma asked the EC to direct the government to revoke the instructions and impose a penalty on those involved.
On Monday, October 23, in another letter to the EC, Sarma said public servants taking part in any activity that was likely to influence voters was a violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules.