The Election Commission has advised Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to exercise more care in matters of issuance of advertisement by his Ministry to ensure full compliance with the Model Code of Conduct.

In a communication sent to him on Saturday, it said: “The Commission is of the view that its advice has been misinterpreted while issuing the advertisement in question.”

“The Commission expects that once a direction is given, appropriate care is taken by the Ministry/ Department concerned to follow the Model Code of Conduct in letter and in spirit. Should you have had any further doubts, these could have been clarified.” Based on the Agriculture Ministry’s request, the EC on September 18 gave its nod for the advertisement on the condition that “it should neither contain photograph nor slogans etc.” According to a complaint, it was carried with a slogan and message (in Marathi) to the effect, “Dear Farmer, this Kharif season, the rains did not help you. But we will” — Message to Farmer Friends.

The EC considered Mr. Pawar’s reply and heard in person the Agricultural Secretary on October 9 and also examined the additional information furnished by the Department. The Commission also sent the copy of its communication to the Cabinet Secretary and the Agriculture Secretary.

Ban on opinion polls

In another communication, the EC said that as per the guidelines issued on February 17, 2009, in a single-phase election, the results of opinion/exit polls carried out at any time cannot be published, publicised or disseminated in any manner during the 48 hours ending the time fixed for the conclusion of poll.

Now in the October 13 Assembly elections, polling will conclude in some constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh at 3 p.m. and at 5 p.m. in the other constituencies, and at 5 p.m. in all constituencies of Maharashtra and Haryana. So the results of opinion/exit polls are not to be published/disseminated during the period from 3 p.m., October 11 to 5 p.m., October 13.