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Scrutiny
  
Is The EC Morally Corrupt?
Why is The EC not Banning The DA Increase Right now?
14/04/2011

The Election Commission (EC) is in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons, as the election date has been announced for Kerala. The EC is supposed to ensure that any scheme, which is a deliberate vote pulling scheme, that is introduced after a set EC deadline date, is immediately banned. In its blundering haste, the EC went ahead and banned the ‘rice at Rs.2 per kg’ scheme in Kerala (a scheme which feeds the poorest of the poor) on the grounds that it would be a swing factor in favour of the ruling Left Front.

The scheme was designed to cover 4 million families under the Public Distribution System. The EC banned it in view of the model code of conduct, which went into force with the announcement of assembly elections in the state. Now consider this. The EC did not make any objection against the increment of dearness allowance made this month by the central government by 6% to 51%, which will benefit over 5 million central government employees and 3.8 million pensioners, which also violates the poll code. The combined impact of the hike will be Rs.57.16 billion per annum. In the next financial year, the burden on the exchequer would be Rs.66.68 billion after the additional 6% DA payout is factored in from January 1 to March 31 this year. Ironically, two years back, in March 2009, EC had interfered in the Jharkhand governor’s decision to hike DA after the model code of conduct came into operation. But this time, EC is completely silent in a starkly similar case. Is that because EC employees would also ‘coincidentally’ benefit from this increment?

The Kerala HC said that the Election Commission has no power prima facie to interfere with the Government order on the rice scheme and reversed the ban. It said, “The benefits of the larger interest cannot be interdicted by model code of conduct.” At the same time, perhaps for fear of losing their own benefits, the EC is not as audacious in raising its voice in the instance of DA rise. A pitiable display, to say the least.

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