With upcoming Lok Sabha Election of 2019, there is a lot of talk about the model code of conduct during the elections. We will discuss briefly what is model code of conduct? what does it imply and why is it necessary.

What is Model code of conduct?

It is a set of guidelines laid down by the Election Commission of India to govern the conduct of political parties and candidates in the run-up to an election. It applies to all political parties, their candidates and polling agents, the government in power, and all government employees. These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit. Much of it is designed to avert communal clashes and corrupt practices. For example, politicians should not make hate speeches, putting one community against another or make promises about new projects that may sway a voter.

When does the model code of conduct come into force?

The Model Code of Conduct comes into force the moment an election is announced and remains in force till the results are declared.

Why is model code of conduct required?

Model Code of Conduct is prescribed to provide a level playing field to all political parties, ruling and opposition. It aims to keep the election campaigns by the political parties healthy, avoid clashes between the supporters of different parties and maintain peace and order during the election campaign period. It also intends to stop the ruling party from using government machinery and exchequer for their election campaign.

Some important guidelines of Model Code of Conduct for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 include:

  • Ministers of the government, including the Prime Minister, cannot combine their official visits with their election campaign
  • Ministers, their ministries and departments cannot sanction or announce any new grants or make payments out of their discretionary funds after the Model Code of Conduct is in place.
  • No adhoc government appointments or transfers of government employees can be made during this period.
  • Parties have to inform the authorities beforehand when and where do they plan to organize rallies for their election campaigns.
  • Religious places of any kind cannot be used for election propaganda.
  • Parties and candidates are to refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life of their opponents.

What if the Model Code of Conduct is not adhered to?

Election commission is empowered to deal with the breaches of Model Code of Conduct very firmly. In case a candidate or a party is found to be in breach of the Model Code of Conduct, Election Commission of India has the powers to penalise or even disqualify the candidate from the elections.

A summary of general model code of conduct for the upcoming Lok Sabha Election of 2019 can be read on Election Commission’s website. You can also download the complete copy of Manual for Model Code of Conduct for further reading.