Free Press Journal

EC ‘clampdown’ on govt activities not justified: Chidambaram


P Chidambaram

New Delhi: Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the Election Commission’s “clampdown” on government activities after the announcement of the poll schedule is not justified in a growing economy like India.

“…a number of programmes which require spending have in fact slowed down. I don’t think this kind of clampdown on all activities is justified…How is it justified in a democracy and in a growing country? I don’t think it is justified,” he said while addressing the media at the Congress party headquarters here.

Chidambaram was of the view that “only something which has a very clear political significance should be frowned upon” by the Election Commission and normal activity of the government should continue.

The model code of conduct came into force on March 5 when the Election Commission announced the nine-phase voting to elect the 16th Lok Sabha. Counting will take place on May 16.

The code bars the ruling party from taking any action that would disturb the “level-playing field” required for the elections.

Chidambaram had said on March 5 that normal government functioning would not come to a halt following the announcement of the elections.

The poll watchdog had asked the government to defer a doubling of natural gas prices from April 1 and the implementation of a moratorium on interest payments on education loans until completion of the elections.

However, it allowed the Reserve Bank of India to issue new bank licences.

Stressing his point, Chidambaram referred to a newspaper article and said it argues that this kind of curb on activities is not a very wise thing to do.

“I would recommend that this editorial be read by the Election Commission and I would ask many other media heads to write in favour of not freezing the government…,” he said.