Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Mission Shakti could have been made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He also said that in his experience, the PMO would ask the EC for permission before making important announcements.
Addressing queries by reporters at the end of a panel discussion at India International Centre, he said, “Agar koi important announcement karni hai, normally humne dekha hai apne che saal mein ki PMO ka office bhi humse poochta hai PM ye kaam karna chahta hain, kar lein? Koi problem to nahi hogi? Because no prime minister or leader wants to embarrass themselves… Ye announcement toh DRDO wala aasani se kar sakta tha; karta hi tha.”
“Agar ye proposal ya action wait kar sakta hai, to usko wait karaaya jaata hai… Suppose it cannot wait, and it’s a pre-scheduled programme, say a minister has to inaugurate something, like a railway station — in such cases, we cannot inconvenience the public by denying permission. But we say that an officer can inaugurate, instead of a minister, so that political advantage can be neutralised. I would have tried to stick to this formula,” said Quraishi.
Kamal Jaswal, Former Secretary IT, Government of India, said, “There have been many instances where the PM’s request has been turned down by the EC.”
The programme, organised by the District Election Officers of East and South districts, saw panelists raising concerns on the Voluntary Code of Ethics notified by the EC on March 23, to be adopted by social media platforms. Jaswal said the code was an “exercise in tokenism”. “It has so many caveats and loopholes…,” he said, advocating using intelligence agencies at district levels as well as police networks to better monitor social media.
DEO (East) K Mahesh said the code, which “is applicable for the period of 48 hours before poll begins and provides guidelines for the removal of content within three hours”, should be made applicable even before. Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh said that since “most social media platforms were based outside the country, there were issues of jurisdiction”.