Election Commission of India has always been the defender of elections. The day the elections are announced, it starts keeping a check on the conduct of political parties to obstruct any use of inappropriate ways by anyone whether incumbent or in opposition.

The model code of conduct or “Aachar Sanhita” is then issued. It is a set of rules and guidelines which is expected by all participants in the process to follow. It is applicable to all political parties, the contenders, the current government and all government officials and remains in force till the proclamation of results. This law is not given by the court rulings, but, has an influencing effect.

It includes preventing the current party from announcing any new schemes or subsidies and limiting the use of wealth and other strategies by the candidates. Any digression from this conduct may invite negative reinforcement from the commission. The model code of conduct is required to be followed by all the political parties and candidates. Any violation could land the candidate in trouble or election be declared void or even the candidature could be cancelled.

Much of the model code of conduct is designed to turn away the communal clashes and corrupt activities. For example, politicians should avoid making hate speeches, putting any community down or make false promises about new projects that may lure a voter.

Evolution of Model Code of Conduct/ Aachaar Samhita :

● The model code of conduct originated in 1960 when it started as a small set of Dos and
Don’ts for the Assembly election in Kerala.
● The Code covered the conduct of election meetings, speeches, slogans, posters and
placards.
● In the 1962 Lok Sabha General Elections, the Election Commission circulated this code
to all the recognized political parties requesting them to secure the acceptance of the
code.
● Report received after the 1962 general elections showed that the Code was followed by
and large.
● In 1967, the Code was followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections with a
consensus of the political parties.

The main points of the code are:

1. Government bodies are not supposed to initiate in any new recruitment process during
the electoral process.
2. The contesting aspirants and the campaigners must respect the home and personal lives
of the antagonists and should not bother them by road shows or by demonstrating in
front of their houses.
3. The election campaign rallies and road shows must not block the road traffic. The parties
are never supposed to trouble the public with their acts.
4. Candidates are asked to keep off offering liquor to voters. It is a commonly known fact in India that during election campaigning, liquor, food and even money may be apportioned
to the voters.
5. The active election code stops the running government or current party leaders from
launching any new prosperity programmes like constructing roads, availability of drinking
water facilities etc. or any ribbon-cutting/ inauguration ceremonies.
6. The code prescribes that public spaces like grounds, government guest houses and
minister bungalows should be equally shared among the battling candidates. These
public spaces are not be taken over by a few contenders.
7. The officials and Ministers holding public offices are not permitted to combine official
travel with electioneering tours.

Model code of conduct is not an obstruction to expansion activities:

This complaint is often put forward that the model code of conduct is coming in the way of
developmental projects because they refrain the candidates from doing the welfare activities.
However, even during the short period when Aachar Sanhita is in function, the in-process
development activities are not stopped and are permitted to go on uninterrupted, and only the newly launched projects, which have not yet started, have to be postponed until the closing of elections. If there is an exceptional work that can’t wait for some reason, then that matter can be referred to the Commission for clearance.

The logic that follows is that why the parties are coming up with new projects and developmental activities as the elections are approaching when they are expected to keep the work continued irrespective of the competition and regardless of the vote bank? The Model Code of Conduct never stops any person or party from exercising their fundamental rights but just refraining them from coming up with ‘new’ actions which are required to be assumed as a duty throughout.

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