THE MODEL Code of Conduct will come into force immediately in the states where legislative assemblies have been dissolved prematurely, and the caretaker government will be barred from announcing new schemes, the Election Commission (EC) has said.

In a communique to the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretaries of all states, the EC Thursday said the Model Code will apply to the caretaker state government as well as the central government in matters relating to that particular state from the date of dissolution of legislative assembly till a new House is elected.

The Indian Express reported on Thursday that the EC had discussed the issue internally, and was likely to pass an order shortly.

The immediate impact of the decision will be on Telangana, where the Cabinet decided to dissolve the House on September 6 but the EC is yet to announce the poll dates. TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao recommended dissolution of the House, before its term came to an end, to avoid possible clubbing of the Assembly elections in the state with Lok Sabha elections.

EC’s latest order means that the ministers in the caretaker government of Telangana cannot combine their official visit with electioneering work, use government transport to further their own interests, announce new schemes and projects and sanction grants and payments out of discretionary funds, among other things.

The date of enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct has evolved over years of tussle between the EC and the government. The Code kicks in the day the EC announces the poll dates. This is based on an agreement between the poll panel and the Central government reached on April 16, 2001.

However, the agreement imposes a condition on the EC that the announcement cannot be more than three weeks before the date of notification of polls. It was agreed that the inauguration of any project would be done by civil servants so that the Model Code does not stand in the way of public interest.

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