Lachar Samhita

By Ashwin Tombat
12 February 2017 20:35 IST

The Election Code of Conduct or Aachar Samhita must be written in a very undecipherable code. Otherwise, why is it that the Union Government can go ahead with the Union Budget even as the poll process is on in five states — including India's largest and most populous state, Uttar Pradesh — while simultaneously, no decision, big or small, or of any kind whatsoever, can be taken by the government in Goa?

 At election time, files pile up. Administrative decisions are put off. Development work stops. Except for those involved in election duties, practically the entire government machinery goes into hibernation.

 Why?

 It is understandable that policy decisions, or government announcements that can affect voting patterns, must be deferred. But why is routine work and decision-making put into cold storage?

 Is the Election Commission responsible for this debilitating state of paralysis, or is it the government? Or is it both...?

We asked that last question because of the interesting conundrum before the state of Goa today. The election campaign is over. The voting is over. The votes are secure in their EVMs, which are locked away behind three layers of security, as Chief Election Officer (CEO) Kunal explained; when he assured the public that tampering with the votes cast was not possible.

Then why is the Election Code of Conduct still on?

If the Code remains in force till 11 March, it will be a short month and a few days before it is back, thanks to Panchayat elections scheduled in mid-May. That is when the State will again have a month-long code of conduct. Thankfully, results for those elections will be very shortly after voting.

The State government has said it "hopes" that the Election Commission of India (ECI) relaxes the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, which was imposed following the announcement of the Assembly elections on 4 January. CEO Kunal says his department cannot recommend lifting the code unless there is a proposal from the government: “If the government writes to us demanding relaxation in the Code of Conduct and gives the reason for the same, we can examine the proposal and submit a report to ECI.” His words.

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar says his government has not written to the Election Commission, but that he still "hopes" the Code of Conduct should be lifted in the next couple of days.

 Really?

So, the Goan public must have faith in the audacity of the Chief Minister's "hope" to get their work done? Or are we merely fated to wait and watch as the government and the EC deftly pass the buck to each other?

What exactly does the Code of Conduct prohibit and allow? According to the CEO, the poll Code of Conduct does not affect any routine work. All pending projects can continue and expenses can be incurred. Only fresh decisions on new projects cannot be taken.

Specifically, the Chief Minister and ministers are not allowed to approve any administrative works or take policy decision. Announcement of new projects, programmes or concessions, or financial grants in any form or promises of such grants, or laying of foundation stones, is prohibited. No fresh sanctions for government schemes are to be made. Review by ministers and/or processing of beneficiary-oriented schemes, even if ongoing, have to be stopped. The government cannot undertake any work for which work orders have been issued, but work has not started.

In sum, it's very little that can be done, while most things are put on hold.

Please write that letter asap, Mr Parsekar...!

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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