Central government ministries and departments might have provided inputs for the preparation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto, a Hindustan Times report dated May 10 says. The publication claims to have reviewed a copy of an email sent to different departments of the ministry of commerce including the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) seeking inputs for the manifesto.
If true, this is a direct violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Incidentally, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for a similar violation, under the violation of Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 was debarred from contesting elections for six years and holding any public office in June 1975.
Additionally, a report dated April 10 by Scroll.in said that NITI Aayog asked Union territories bureaucrats and at least one BJP-ruled state to send inputs on local area understanding to Prime Minister’s Office ahead of PM Modi’s visits to these places. However, the Election Commission found no violation of MCC. Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said that the PM is exempted from the provision that restricts ministers from combining official visits with campaigning.
BJP allegedly Asked Inputs From Ministries
Hindustan Times reported that it reviewed an email which was sent out to departments under the ministry of commerce seeking information on initiatives like Start-up India and Invest India for the ‘Vision 2024’ document. The publication says that upon comparing copy of Vision 2024 document and BJP’s manifesto, the uncanny resemblance was found between the two.
Also, the email sent out is dated March 28 while the BJP manifesto was released on April 8. The email read: “Please elaborate on your respective points for the Startup India vision document….This has to go in the election manifesto,” the Hindustan Times report says. Further, the email was reportedly signed by one Aastha Grover, a senior investment specialist. Soon after the email was sent out, DPIIT officials were given a verbal direction to delete the email, fearing that it could be a violation of MCC.
In response to the Hindustan Times report, the spokesperson of the commerce ministry said that the context of the mail and the requirement was not clear.
Following the report coming to light, the Election Commission has initiated an inquiry. Also, a detailed report from the Commerce ministry has been sought. ““It has been reported that an email has been sent (by) one particular lady official to some officials to give some information which will be used for some particular purpose. When this (report) came to our notice, we immediately verified (whether there) is any such official, and it was confirmed over the phone that there is an officer like that … A report has been called for and we are awaiting the report from the ministry (sic),” Sandeep Saxena, Deputy Election Commissioner told Hindustan Times.
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