New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The government Tuesday went out of its way to deny reports that its group of ministers on corruption was considering a proposal to take the poll model code of conduct out of the Election Commission’s purview and providing the rules statutory status.
The first government representative to deny the proposal was Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who told reporters that such an agenda was not before the group of ministers.
“To my knowledge, there is no such thing on the agenda. As far as I understand, it was agreed that once the elections are over, there will be an all-party consultation on the issue about electoral reforms which are being pushed by the EC,” Khurshid said here.
“I can’t talk about what is on the agenda of the poll reform meeting as we will come to know it once we get closer to that meeting. If the matter is raised by any political party or any leader, then we will take it as and when during the course of meeting,” he said.
Khurshid also wondered what the group of ministers on corruption had to do with the code of conduct.
“I am a little bit surprised what (group of ministers on) corruption has to do with the code of conduct. The code of conduct is about a larger area of election procedures and processes. Maybe, it has some connection with governance or corruption, but there is no core link with corruption,” he said.
According to the law minister, corruption largely has to do with government decisions and how can they be influenced and manipulated and where there should be clarity or objectivity. That is what the GoM on corruption is looking at, he said.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal too echoed the sentiments of Khurshid on the matter.
“It has come up for the first time and there is nothing on the GoM agenda,” Mukherjee said, while Sibal said: “I am on the GoM and have not dealt with the issue and that meeting has not taken place and there is no such proposal.”
Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily, however, said the UPA government’s decision will be a considered one, as it has always supported the autonomy of the Election Commission.
“Whatever decision is taken, it will be a considered decision. You should know it is the Congress Party and the UPA, which always supports the autonomy of the Election Commission of India,” Moily said.
Currently, the assembly elections are underway in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, where several central ministers from the Congress party, including Khurshid and Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma have promised a quota in education and government jobs for Muslims.
The Election Commission has taken objection to these statements and termed them as violation of the model code.