EC’s freebie letter is simply not its business: Congress

Congress will consider a recent proposal by the Election Commission to change the model code “yet another nail in the coffin of democracy” on Thursday.

According to Congress, the recent proposal of the Election Commission to change the model code is antithetical to the spirit of competitive politics. It will serve as “another nail in the coffin of democracy”.

The EC has requested all registered state and national political parties to disclose authentic information to voters regarding the financial viability of their election promises, stating that inadequate disclosures have far-reaching consequences.

Parties have been requested to submit their views by October 19.

The proposal should have been made after the Supreme Court had decided on the appeal about “freebies vs welfare measures”, according to a former chief election commissioner who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In August, the apex court had ordered that the pleas be heard by a three-judge bench, noting that the issues required “extensive” discussion.

As a result, the EC should have taken action to implement the apex court’s decision, he opined.

In response to a question regarding the development, the Congress general secretary in charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh, stated that it was not the responsibility of the Election Commission to deal with such matters.

“It goes against the spirit and essence of competitive politics and will be another nail in the coffin of Indian democracy,” he said.

Ramesh concluded that several welfares and social development schemes that have been transformative over the decades would not have been possible if such a bureaucratic approach had been in place.

The former CEC questioned how the poll panel could determine what the voters wanted as opposed to what they did not wish.

He stated that the proforma proposed by the EC “seems to be the responsibility of the Executive”.

Several parties have expressed opposition, with the Left-leaning parties claiming that it was not the poll body’s responsibility to “regulate” policies.

According to the EC letter, the consequences of inadequate disclosures by political parties are lessened by the frequency of elections, allowing political parties to engage in competitive electoral promises, particularly in multiphase elections, without explaining their financial implications, particularly commitments,” according to the poll panel. The electorate will be able to make informed election choices if the parties disclose the financial implications of their promises adequately.

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