EC bars parties from releasing manifestos in last 48 hrs before polling

NEW DELHI/ ITANAGAR Mar 17: The Election Commission (EC) has barred political parties from releasing election manifestos during the prohibitory period, as prescribed under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The Commission has now made the release of election manifestos a part of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which is a set of rules to be followed by parties after elections are announced.
The amended model code now states, “In case of single phase election, manifesto shall not be released during the prohibitory period, as prescribed under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act 1951. In case of multi-phase elections, manifesto shall not be released during the prohibitory periods, as prescribed under Section 126 of the RP Act of all the phases of those elections.”
Section 126 of the Act embodies “election silence”, which prohibits any form of election campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting.
As of now there was no rule on timing of release of manifestos.
In 2014, the BJP had released its Lok Sabha manifesto on the day of voting in the first phase. Although the Congress had complained to the EC, stating this would influence voters, the commission was unable to act since the MCC is silent on the timing of the manifesto’s release.
A panel formed by the EC had recently recommended that parties be barred from releasing manifesto in the last 72 hours before polling.
While several parties were silent on the issue, the Congress had opposed the proposal.
Since model code is not a law, any violation leads to a reprimand by the EC.
The MCC has laid down rules that govern what political parties are allowed to do and what they cannot do after the code come into effect.
The MCC includes a list of guidelines used for regulating political parties and their activities just ahead of elections.
The MCC comprises of several provisions dealing with general conduct, meetings, rallies and public appearances, polling day, observers, polling booths, party in power and election manifestos.
As soon as the as the code kicks in, the party in power in both Centre and states should ensure that it does not abuse the official power handed to them for purposes of campaigning. Therefore, no policy, project or scheme can be announced after the MCC is implemented.
Worth mentioning that the party in power should also avoid advertising at the cost of public exchequer or using any form of the mass media for publicity or propaganda to improve chances of winning the election.
Additionally, the code bars ministers from combining official visits with election work or use official machinery for the same.
Further, no ruling party is allowed to use government transport or machinery for campaigning. It should also ensure that public places such as maidans and facilities such as helipads are provided to opposition parties at par with the party in power.
The government in power is also not allowed to make any impromptu appoints in government or public undertaking as it can influence the voters.
In fact, when any leader is criticising a political party or personality, it should only be based on their work; no communal act can be used to lure in new voters.
Besides, political parties are also not allowed to use places of religious importance or religion to promote election propaganda. PTI/DIPRO