EC issues dos and donts for assembly polls

New Delhi: With the announcement of poll schedule for five states, the Election Commission has directed the authorities to enforce the model code of conduct strictly and also asked parties in power to ensure that there is no cause for complaint.

In a set of `dos and dont`s`, it has said that no advertisements should be issued in electronic and print media highlighting the achievements of the government at the cost of the public exchequer.

"If any advertisement has already been released, it must be ensured that the telecast/broadcast of such advertisement is stopped forthwith and that no such advertisement is published in the print media and it should be immediately withdrawn," the EC said. The Commission had announced the poll schedule yesterday.

It wanted the Union Cabinet Secretary as also Chief Secretaries and CEOs of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry to ensure these instructions were followed in letter and spirit.

It asked them to see that the party in power whether at the Centre or in the states concerned should give no cause for any complaint that official machinery has been used for the purposes of election campaign.

Detailing the guidelines, the EC said ministers should not combine official visit with electioneering work and should also not make use official machinery or personnel during the electioneering work.

Government transport including official aircraft, vehicles, machinery and personnel should not be used for furtherance of the interest of the party in power, it said.

"Public places such as maidans for holding election meetings and use of helipads for flights in connection with elections shall not be monopolised by itself", it said.

Other parties and candidates should be allowed the use of such places and facilities on the same terms and conditions on which they were used by the party in power, the EC made it clear.

Similarly, rest houses, dak bungalows or other government accommodation should not be monopolised by the party in power and its candidates, it said.

Through another direction, the EC asked the Centre and the states concerned not to release funds under the MPLAD fund in any part of the country where election is in progress.

This applied to MPLAD funds of Rajya Sabha members too, it said.

Besides, no fresh release of funds under the MLAs/ MLCs Local Area Development Fund should be made in these areas till the elections were over, the EC said.

While West Bengal will have six-phased assembly polls beginning April 18, Assam elections will be held in two phases on April 4 and 11. Voters in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry would exercise their franchise on April 13.

Counting of votes in all the five states will take place on May 13.

In the backdrop of West Bengal being affected by Maoists activities and also frequent clashes between rival political groups, the polling in the state will be held in a staggered manner on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7 and 10.