The Election Commission of India announced Sunday that Lok Sabha polls 2019 will be held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May. With the announcement of dates, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into force and lays down a list of dos and don’ts for the political parties, candidates and their supporters. It is the duty of stakeholders of democracy, from politicians to officials to voters, to ensure that the code of conduct is not violated at any cost and for any reason.
The Model Code of Conduct bars the government from announcing any policy move that may impact voters’ decision. According to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification. With the social media emerging a main influencing factor in the last few years, it is a welcome move that the EC has come forward to monitor it. As far as the Model Code of Conduct concerned, it is a set of guidelines issued to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
The rules range from issues related to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, content of election manifestos, processions and general conduct, so that free and fair elections are conducted. The MCC comes into force from the date the election schedule is announced until the date results are out. In other words, it kicked in from Sunday evening and will remain in effect until the election process is concluded. Political parties or candidates can be criticised based only on their work record and no caste and communal sentiments can be used to lure voters. Mosques, churches, temples or any other place of worship should not be used for election propaganda. Bribing, intimidating or impersonation of voters is also barred. Holding public meetings during the 48-hour period before the hour fixed for the closing of the poll is also prohibited. Let us ensure that the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ is not crossed.