Code of conduct in force in 12 districts
The Election Commission (EC) has barred Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Ministers from participating in Rachabanda programme in the 12 districts where model code of conduct is in force due to the biennial elections being held in six State Legislative Council constituencies there.
It issued orders to this effect on Thursday. It, however, ruled that the programme could be continued in these districts and the intended benefits disbursed to beneficiaries by officials. Nonetheless, the officials involved in conduct of elections like returning officers have been prohibited from participating in the programme meetings.
With the programme slated to be held for two more days, the scheduled visits of the Chief Minister and Ministers to Kadapa and Nellore districts on Friday and Saturday respectively have been cancelled.
Besides Kadapa and Nellore, the districts in which the code has come into force are Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Prakasam, Chittoor, Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad following announcement of the “election schedule” by the EC on February 8 from when the code came into force.
The EC issued the order following a prolonged meeting in New Delhi over the issue subject to the condition that the code would be implemented by the government. Although district Collectors are designated as “district election officers” for the purpose of the elections, the EC had not imposed any restriction, preventing them from participating in Rachabanda, Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal clarified to the media here on Thursday evening.
He said the Chief Minister and Ministers should not make visits to the 12 districts till the election process was completed on March 21, and hold review meetings with officials. But if they were required to visit these districts by an administrative compulsion, they should immediately return to Hyderabad. If they made a private visit, they should not use the official vehicles fitted with beacon lights.