GOVT VIOLATES MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT, KANYASHREE CAMPAIGN KICKS UP ROW
By bappaditya paul
Paying no heed to repeated reminders from the Election Commission, the website of the West Bengal Women Development and Social Welfare Departments continue to flaunt the photographs of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and several of her Cabinet colleagues in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) now in force for the Lok Sabha polls. The departments concerned are headed by IAS officer Ms Roshni Sen, placed in the rank of a Secretary.
The website ~ http://wbcdwdsw.gov.in~ have multiple photographs of Chief Minister Miss Banerjee (see screen shot above), Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashi Panja, Social Welfare Minister Sabitri Mitra, Textiles Minister Shyamapada Mukherjee, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim and Finance Minister Amit Mitra.
Besides this, a page on the website dedicated to the CM’s dream project ~ Kanyashree ~ have a forwarding message from Miss Banerjee wherein she speaks of the “economic corruption of the previous (Left) government” and blames it for not “utilising the social security and development index in the right perspective.” The Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which came into effect with the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls on 5 March, does not permit government websites to carry photographs and messages of ministers and political functionaries eulogising their own activities.
Sources in the office of the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that they have forwarded the Election Commission’s instruction twice to all the state government departments asking them to remove all such photographs. The last reminder addressed to the Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries/ Under Secretaries of the departments was sent on 12 March.
The reminder, a copy of which is in possession of The Statesman reads: “…The Commission has decided that during the period when MCC is in force in connection with general election to the Lok Sabha, all references to Ministers, Politicians or Political Parties available on such State Government / Central Government’s official websites, shall be taken off / purged of.”An Election Commission official said that non-compliance of the instruction would invite action against the departmental head. “We are keeping a note of such non-compliance and the government official concerned will face the action since it is they who are answerable to the Commission and not the ministers. Such violation will reflect on the official’s service book,” the official said over the phone.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 22 March 2014.)