New Delhi: In a major setback to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday brought the Model Code of Conduct into force in Telangana. The poll body also said that the caretaker government should abstain from taking any major policy decisions.
The development came after the ECI said that states where legislative assemblies have been dissolved prematurely will be immediately placed under the poll code which bars governments from announcing new schemes. “The caretaker government should merely carry on the day-to-day functions and desist from taking any major policy situation decisions,” the Election Commission said on orders on enforcement of Model Code of Conduct from the date of dissolution of state assembly.
In a communique to the cabinet secretariat and all chief secretaries, the EC said the model code will apply to the caretaker state government as well as the central government in matters relating to that particular state.
This is perhaps for the first time that a state where polls have not yet been announced has been placed under the model code, a report said. Notably, Telangana is the only state as of today where the assembly has been dissolved prematurely and a caretaker government is in place.
The Telangana Assembly was dissolved earlier in September, before its term was due to end in June 2019, following the recommendation from Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao-led cabinet.
The model code usually comes into force the day the EC announces polls and remains enforced till the electoral process is completed.
“In such an eventuality … the provisions of Part-VII (Party in Power) of the Model Code of Conduct shall come into operation with immediate effect in the state concerned and shall continue to be in force till the completion of the election to constitute the new legislative assembly,” the EC said.
It said, consequently, neither the caretaker state government nor the central government shall announce any new schemes, projects in relation to that state or undertake any of the activities prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct.
The commission made it clear that all other prohibitions, such as use of official resources for any non-official purposes, combining of official visit with electioneering, will be applicable on all ministers and other authorities of the caretaker state government, central government as well as governments of other states.
The EC said its directions are in line with a 1994 Supreme Court verdict which said a caretaker government should merely carry on with the day-to-day governance and desist from taking any major policy decision.
The poll watchdog asked the Cabinet Secretariat to bring its directions to the notice of “all concerned.”
(With PTI inputs)