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EC's partial code relaxation hampers hailstorm relief

Poll panel forbids involvement of district collector, subordinates in govt functioning as they are busy with elections; ministers can’t hold review meetings without them

The Election Commission (EC) has relaxed the model code of conduct post the elections in the state, but only partially. While normal administrative work and development activities have been allowed to resume, the EC has not allowed ministers to involve the district collector’s office in their meetings, as they are deputed on poll duty.

It is said that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already drafted his priority list for the assembly elections
It is said that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already drafted his priority list for the assembly elections

The ministers, who were keen to start routine government business by holding review meetings to take stock of various decisions, are now helpless.

The EC order, received by the state on Friday night (a copy of which is with this newspaper), clearly says that “no officials contended with the conduct of election shall be transferred till the entire election process is completed, and no review meetings can be held by the minister or any other political functionaries with the election related officials.”

“The relaxation is meaningless, as not a single meeting is possible without the district collector, who is the highest implementing authority of state programmes in districts,” said a senior cabinet member, requesting anonymity as he was unwilling to invite the EC’s wrath.

The district collector or his subordinates provide reports on how various schemes and policies have been implemented in various districts and how effective they have been for the public. This means that the ministers’ review meetings are futile without the collectorate.

Apart from the collectors, who are engaged in conducting elections, his deputies, such as additional collectors, deputy collectors and tehsildars are also involved and they will not be free until the results are declared on May 16, the minister said.

This comes as a rude shock to ministers who were keen on taking stock of relief and rehabilitation work necessitated due to the hailstorms that the state witnessed in the first fortnight of March.

The colossal losses to the state farming sector have disturbed the entire farming community in at least 24 districts, and it is also set to affect the poll prospects of candidates belonging to the ruling Congress-NCP combine, an office bearer of the Congress said.

The Congress and the NCP also wish to start preparations for the assembly elections due in October this year. Reports of an anti-incumbency factor that may offer the BJP and the Shiv Sena a major boost have also sent worrying signals in the ruling camp.

It is said that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already drafted his priority list in view of the assembly elections. The code of conduct for the assembly elections might come into force in the last week of August, said a senior bureaucrat.

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