Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

LS Polls: Ministers went on overdrive hours before model code of conduct came into effect

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath during a press conference to announce dates for the Lok Sabha elections. (PTI) Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath during a press conference to announce dates for the Lok Sabha elections. (PTI)
By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: March 6, 2014 2:18 am | Updated: March 6, 2014 9:09 am

From last minute “praise releases” that extolled the achievements of ministers to the rushed appointment of a Governor well past midnight, an early morning rapid-fire round of inaugurations and policy announcements, politicians and bureaucrats alike burnt the midnight oil to beat the model code of conduct that came into effect just before noon on Wednesday.

With the Election Commission making it clear that the poll dates would be announced on Wednesday morning, a flurry of announcements and events took place, most of them narrowly missing the start of the code of conduct.

Rashtrapati Bhawan, it seems, worked well past midnight, formally announcing the appointment of Sheila Dikshit as the Kerala governor at 3.20 am. The defence ministry created a record of sorts by sending a press release at as early as 7.30 am — a detailed 28-page eulogy on the “achievements” of Defence Minister A K Antony over the past eight years that included “breaching the barriers in the allocation of eggs and fruits to jawans”.

The home ministry too started work early on Wednesday, announcing that the central government has decided to withdraw from the acquisition of Wakf properties in Delhi based on certain conditions. The announcement missed the start of the EC’s press conference by just 10 minutes.

Senior law ministry officials worked till the early hours of Wednesday, giving the final touches to the notification on reservation of jobs for Jats.

The busiest minister in the morning seemed to be Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, who managed a quick round of inaugurations that beat the code of conduct. Singh launched a swimming pool project, the National Cycling Academy at Indira Gandhi Sports Complex and a Community Connect Scheme. This, despite a busy Tuesday inaugurating a central library and laying the foundation stone of the New Academic & Residential Complex of RGNIYD at Sriperumbudur.

HRD Minister Pallam Raju inaugurated a new guest house of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) at 10 am — just half-an-hour before the poll schedule was announced. The event was apparently scheduled at the last minute — the media invites were sent at 8:35 pm on Tuesday.

In fact, Raju was on an inauguration spree through the week, with three back-to-back events on Monday, and also appointed members and officials of the University Grants Commission and directors of IITs. However, he could not appoint Vice Chancellors of 12 new central universities due to procedural delays. His ministry also managed to push in last-minute half-page advertisements in newspapers on Wednesday.

The rural development ministry beat the code deadline by a day, posting a detailed press communique on its website on Tuesday, listing the number of projects for skill development of rural youth approved by the ministry under its flagship National Rural Livelihoods continued…

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