The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll code rap on Digvijay

New Delhi, Nov. 12: Chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh continues to apply the rulebook scrupulously without giving any party a breather.

If the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Gujarat was at the receiving end of his stick earlier, the Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh is reeling under its impact now.

On Monday, Lyngdoh asked the Digvijay Singh government to defer the implementation of a scheme waiving power bills for poor farmers.

The Madhya Pradesh chief minister had announced the scheme in late September before the commission announced the election dates.

But it would have come into operation on November 5, and the commission felt that this violated the model code of conduct. Lyngdoh said the scheme could easily be deferred without causing damage.

This is not the first time the commission and Digvijay have had a face-off.

Earlier, Lyngdoh had ticked off the state government for tampering with electoral rolls. Digvijay had ultimately given in.

This time, too, he has yielded saying his government will comply with the commission’s order and not issue zero bills to farmers till the elections.

“But this will not affect our electoral prospects,” said Digvijay amid widespread speculation that he is trying to lift his sagging image by giving away expensive sops.

A couple of days ago, the chief election commissioner had harsh words for Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi as well. He asked the state government to stop circulating school bags with the chief minister’s portrait on them and told district officials not to be partisan in discharging their electoral duties.

Lyngdoh went as far as to say that the Chhattisgarh administration was more politicised than the Gujarat officials had been.

The Congress — which was earlier showering accolades on the chief election commissioner for showing Modi the rulebook — is in a spot.

Digvijay defended his government, saying the commission had not questioned its decision to waive the power bill. It had only directed a postponement.

The directive was not an indictment of his government for violating the model code of conduct, the chief minister insisted.

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