State EC directs Delhi govt, MCD to take ‘appropriate action’ on word ‘Aam’ in schemes

Delhi state election commission has directed authorities to ensure appropriate action after a complaint by the BJP that display of word Aam in names of government-run schemes amounted to violation of MCD poll code.
An Aam Aadmi Mohalla clinic in Delhi - India TV
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi 22 Mar 2017, 21:21:28 PM IST

The Delhi state election commission has directed authorities to ensure "appropriate action" after a complaint by the BJP that display of word "Aam" in names of government-run schemes amounted to violation of MCD poll code. 

The commission in a letter written to the Delhi chief secretary and commissioners of the three municipal corporations, has also asked them to submit a compliance report soon. 

Civic polls are due on April 22. A Delhi BJP delegation had on March 20 met State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava, seeking his direction for removal or covering of the word "Aam" in the names of various Aam Aadmi Party government-run schemes, including mohalla clinics, displayed through hoardings, billboards, banners and name plates. 

"The Model Code of Conduct is in force w.e.f. 14.03.2017, 5:00 PM. You are therefore, requested to please ensure the appropriate action and submit a compliance report to the Commission in 48 hours," says the letter by the state election commission dated March 21.

Besides, Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinic, Aam Aadmi Bypass Express Service and few other schemes are run by the Arvind Kejriwal government, which have 'aam addmi' words prefixed in their names. 

Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, who led the delegation, had said the model code of conduct has come into force in all areas under the three civic bodies and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party should not be allowed to use its official position during electioneering. 

"The Delhi government is running about 150 Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics in different parts of the city where the words 'Aam Aadmi' are prominently displayed on hoardings, billboards and banners etc. 

"It is also running Aam Aadmi Bypass Express Bus Service that covers a vast area of the city," the memorandum by the delegation reads.

Naming of these clinics and the bus service after the Aam Aadmi Party is sure to "influence" the voters in its favour, to the "disadvantage" of other political parties in the fray, the BJP leaders have claimed. 

Citing relevant examples, the BJP delegation had also said the Election Commission in the recently held polls in Uttar Pradesh had directed to cover the word 'Samajwadi' on 1,488 ambulances operated under 'Samajwadi Swasthya Sewa'. 

"In 2012 too, it had directed that the elephant symbol of the BSP be covered in parks," it said. 

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari welcomed the state election commission's order saying it vindicates the party's stand in the matter. 

"The Delhi BJP has repeatedly raised this issue but the Arvind Kejriwal government took no note and splashed hundreds of crores of rupees on mischievous publicity," Tiwari said. 

State election commission succumbed to political pressure: AAP 

The AAP, however, expressed displeasure over the order and alleged that the state election commission has "succumbed" to "political pressure" and "trampled" on the Constitution.

The AAP's Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey and party MLA Somnath Bharti, in separate letters to the commission, expressed their "shock" and alleged that the constitutional body is "acting as subordinate" of its "political masters". 

Pandey wondered whether similar action will be taken against names of schemes which carry the words 'Bhartiya' and 'Janata' or 'Indian' and 'national'. 

"We are pained to note that officers in the commission have trampled on the Constitution by following the diktats of political leaders. 

"In a haste to please a political party, the commission did not even care to follow the due procedure and issue notices to the Delhi government and the AAP and allow them a hearing," he wrote. 

Pandey also met the state election commissioner over the issue.

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