Just as the model code of conduct is in place for the forthcoming Maharashtra Assembly poll, the ruling BJP government in the state, on Wednesday, announced a relaxation of rules to pay a month’s salary in advance to state government employees and those working with aided institutions.
While the finance department claimed that permission for releasing the salary in advance had been obtained from Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer, the department withdrew the notification in the evening, raising eyebrows.
The notification, which now stands withdrawn, had directed Maharashtra’s Directorate of Accounts and Treasuries to release the salary and pensions due for the ongoing month before October 24 itself. “The Diwali festival commences from October 25. To allow the employees to celebrate the festival, it was decided to release the amount in advance,” the notification mentioned.
Polling for the upcoming elections is scheduled for October 21, while the counting of votes is to take place on October 24. Besides employees of the state government, the concession was also applied for those working with district councils and aided educational institutions, and agricultural universities, among others.
According to the notification, the government had relaxed provisions of the Mumbai Financial Rules (1958), and Maharashtra Treasury Rules (1968) to allow the concession. Nitin Gadre, Principal Secretary (Accounts and Treasury) said, “There has been a tradition to pay (state) employees in advance ahead of Diwali as a goodwill gesture.” He added that “the permission of the Chief Electoral Officer had been obtained”.
When asked about reasons for the withdrawal of the notification, Gadre cited “practical difficulties”.
“Much of the staff in accounts and treasury is on election duty. This would have made implementation of the decision a challenge,” he said, adding that “the department will approach the Election Commission and also discuss internally on how the implementation should now be done”.
Sources, meanwhile, said that a fresh notification was unlikely to be issued before polling. Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer Baldev Singh said that the “permission had been granted keeping Diwali in mind”.