“Code applies to even President's address, Railway budget”

As Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has indicated that the government might present the budget for 2012-2013 after March 3, against the normal practice of doing it on the last day of February, when the Assembly polls end in all five States this year, the Election Commission has made it clear that the model code is already in place and the Centre should desist from giving any sops to the poll-bound States even in the President's address and in the Railway budget.

“We don't want to write to the government in this regard. The code is already in place and will be applicable to the Central government too with regard to Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. I hope the government adheres to the model code in letter and in spirit and desists from making any announcement to woo the voters,” said a senior EC official.

Talking to The Hindu here on Monday, he said the Commission had not received any communication from the government so far on the possible postponement of the budget post-Assembly elections. “We don't want to make any further comment on the subject as it is for the government to decide. We are only interested in the strict enforcement of the model code.”

Observers

Earlier in the day, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma gave instructions to 1,200 observers appointed to the States going to the polls.

The Election Commission asked the observers to set new benchmarks in the election management through stringent observation and display of alertness and ingenuity.

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