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Centre's plan to rope in bureaucrats as 'Rath Prabharis' hits roadblock from Election Commission
File image of PM Modi & Amit Shah/ courtesy: UNI

Centre's plan to rope in bureaucrats as 'Rath Prabharis' hits roadblock from Election Commission

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 27 Oct 2023, 12:22 am

New Delhi/IBNS: The Centre's plan to rope in bureaucrats for a countrywide mega rally to highlight the BJP-led central government's achievements has hit a hurdle with the Election Commission banning the yatra in five states where elections are due by the year-end.

Last week, the government asked all Union ministries to name senior officials -- joint secretaries, director, and deputy secretary -- from every district of the country to act as "district rath prabharis (special officers)" for the Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra.

The order, however, triggered protest and indignation among a section of officials.

Former bureaucrats have written to President Droupadi Murmu, objecting to the plan.

According to rules, civil servants cannot be roped in for political activities so as to enable them to work seamlessly through change in governments at the Centre and states. 

The Election Commission pointed out that the Model Code of Conduct has already come into effect in the five states where elections are due including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, and Telangana.

"In view of the foregoing, Commission has directed that the aforesaid activities should not be taken in the constituencies where Model Code of Conduct is in force up till 5th December, 2023," the Commission said in its communication to the cabinet secretary.

The Commission's directive came following a complaint from Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, who also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, calling the move a "gross misuse of government machinery".

"It is a clear violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which directs that no government servant shall take part in any political activity," Kharge wrote. 

"While it is acceptable for government officers to disseminate information, to make them celebrate and showcase achievements blatantly turns them into political workers of the ruling party. The fact that only achievements of the last 9 years are being considered, gives away the fact that this is a transparently political order in the run-up to the five-state elections and the general elections of 2024," read the letter, which Kharge posted on his X page.

However, the Centre has made it clear that the yatra will skip poll-bound states.

In an informal interaction with reporters on Thursday, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra said, "There is no plan to start the 'Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra' in election-bound states where the model code of conduct is in place. In poll-bound states the yatra will start when the model code of conduct is lifted."

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