The Election Commission of India’s (ECI) Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines that political parties, candidates, and governments must follow during elections. The MCC is in place in India to ensure free, fair, and impartial elections. The following are some key elements of the Model Code of Conduct:
Level playing field: The MCC seeks to ensure that all political parties and candidates have a level playing field. It forbids any activity that could give any party or candidate an unfair advantage, such as the use of government resources for campaign purposes or the announcement of new schemes or projects that could influence voters.
Prohibition on government advertisements: During the election season, the MCC prohibits the use of government advertisements for political purposes. It ensures that no public funds are used to promote any particular party or candidate.
Campaigning: The MCC outlines election campaigning guidelines. It establishes the parameters for the use of loudspeakers, public meetings, rallies, processions, and other campaign activities. It also restricts the use of religious sites for political purposes.
Code of ethics: The MCC encourages ethical behaviour in election campaigns. It forbids candidates and parties from making personal attacks, inciting hatred or violence, exploiting caste or communal sentiments to gain votes, or engaging in any form of corruption.
Law and order: The MCC emphasises the importance of maintaining law and order during elections. It forbids activities such as intimidation, booth capturing, bribing voters, or any other form of electoral malpractice that could disrupt the peaceful conduct of elections.
During elections, the MCC encourages fair and unbiased media coverage. It ensures that all political parties and candidates are given equal access to the media. It also prohibits the publication of any advertisements or content that may be defamatory, misleading, or violate journalistic ethics.
Public servants’ roles: During elections, the MCC defines the roles of public servants such as civil servants, police officers, and government employees. It instructs them to remain neutral and avoid any actions or statements that may favour one party or candidate over another. During the election season, public employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities.
The Election Commission of India is in charge of enforcing the Model Code of Conduct and dealing with any violations. Violations of the MCC can result in penalties such as reprimands, fines, or candidate disqualification.
The MCC is critical in ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process in India, as well as promoting ethical behaviour and maintaining election integrity. Its goal is to uphold democratic principles and protect voters’ rights to make informed decisions free of undue influence.