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Cong’s balancing act: Model code needs statutory backing

While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra played down Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s showdown with the Election Commission saying such things “do happen in politics”

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
February 14, 2012 3:57:26 am

While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday played down Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s showdown with the Election Commission saying such things “do happen in politics” and the matter would be sorted out by the “two institutions”,the Congress gave the issue a new turn,calling the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) a “voluntary pact” by political parties that lacks statutory backing.

The Law Minister,who had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to clarify his position,meanwhile,looked inclined to buy peace. When contacted by The Indian Express,he refused to make any comment.

The Congress,which had on Sunday disapproved of the minister’s comment saying all partymen should speak as per norms of public life and law of the land,appeared to be doing a tightrope walk as the party does not want to be seen defying a constitutional body nor does it want to send out any “wrong signal” to Muslims by taking any action against the minister.

“Without any disrespect for the Election Commission,which we hold in the highest esteem…time has come,in a wider sweep of electoral reforms,to think about giving Model Code of Conduct a statutory backing. Perhaps it will be appropriate that the whole question should be looked at and the Election Commission should also revisit its own position on this issue,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi.

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The Dinesh Goswami Committee had in its report recommended statutory backing to the MCC,but the EC was said to be unenthusiastic about it. Unlike today when the EC sits in judgment over the code violation,statutory backing would mean the court would be able to decide on the matter,said party sources.

Meanwhile,speaking to reporters in Allahabad,Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the party spokesman had already responded by telling ministers to realise their responsibilities. He said the Prime Minister was “seized of the matter and any action taken on the issue will be known to all people”.

(With ENS,Allahabad)

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