The Model Code of Conduct or MCC is a set of guidelines issued by Election Commission of India for governing conduct of candidates as well as political parties before and during an election. Once the poll dates are announced and the MCC becomes effective, the conduct of political parties as well as governments comes within the ECI’s purview.
Let us now look at some of the highlights of the Model Code of Conduct, which will help understand its role in greater detail.
Highlights of Model Code of Conduct during 2014 Lok Sabha Election
- General Conduct: The participating political parties are to refrain from inciting communal tensions and unverified allegations against each other. Also, parties can’t involve in any act that can amount to bribing or influencing the voters through cash or other offerings/services, etc. Parties must also maintain decorum while conducting meetings.
- Meetings: Permission for meetings, loudspeakers, etc., needs to be obtained in advance. Also, restrictions set by the police are to be observed.
- Processions: While organizing processions, parties are to inform the police well in advance of the full itinerary. The police will supervise the traffic monitoring, and the political parties are to follow the guidelines given. Also, organisers of processions must make sure that no harmful items are being carried.
- Polling Day: On the day of the poling, the parties are to cooperate with the polling officers. They must produce correct identity cards when required to do so. One malpractice during the election is the distribution of liquor, which needs to be stopped before 24 hours of the election. Also, they must make sure not to crowd the polling station.
- Polling Booth: Anyone except voters or persons with proper ECI passes is not allowed to enter the polling booths. Parties are thus to refrain from any such attempt.
- Observers: Observers will be appointed by the ECI. If agents or candidates have specific complaint(s) regarding election conduction, those should be brought to the notice of the Observer.
- Party in Power: The political parties in power, either at Center or States, should adhere to certain rules and regulations so that they don’t take undue advantage in election to their political rivals by utilising their official position. During this time, the party will not make any ad-hoc announcements that are likely to influence the voters. It is also not to use official machinery/personnel and vehicles/air-crafts for electioneering works.
New guidelines for the 2014 Election
This time, many new rules have been included in the MCC. Following a Supreme Court order, the political parties are required to furnish details of financing the promises they make in their election manifestos. Campaign spending limit has been increased. In bigger states, political parties can spend up to Rs. 70 lakh on campaigns, increasing it from the previous value of Rs. 25 lakh.
It must be stressed that the Model Code of Conduct is frequently violated. Cash and liquor are distributed without restrain in many parts of the country, while burning of effigies of political opponents is also not uncommon. And actual poll expenditure is several times more than the declared. One problem in more effective implementation of the Model Code of Conduct is that it’s not a law and post the polls, the Election Commission retains only an advisory role.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.