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EC raps Centre, Chhattisgarh on poll code violation

October 14, 2003 23:12 IST
Last Updated: October 15, 2003 00:34 IST

The Election Commission on Tuesday asked the Centre to stop issuing advertisements to mark the completion of four years by the National Democratic Alliance government holding them as "clear violation" of the model code of conduct.

It also barred the Chhattisgarh government from distributing schoolbags embossed with Chief Minister Ajit Jogi's photograph. According to a representation, the bags were being distributed through the state's Tribal Welfare Department. The bags have already been distributed in three districts, official sources said. Assembly elections in the state are due on December 1.

In a letter to the chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Delhi, the Commission said no advertisements with the objective of furthering the interests of the party in power should be issued in newspapers and electronic media at the expense of the exchequer.

In another directive, the Commission directed the district administrations in the five states to seize official vehicles being used for election campaigning.

In a missive to the central government, it said, "The Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately after the October 6 announcement of the election schedule. The display of such advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer constitutes a clear violation of the Code."

It provides an "undue advantage" to the party in power and has the effect of "influencing" voters in its favour, the EC said in a communication to the Union Cabinet Secretary and Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The directive came a day after Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the charge that the release of advertisements to mark completion of four years of the NDA government was in violation of the Model Code saying they highlighted the achievements of the Centre and not of those of the states going to polls.

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