Modi-fied: Children sport Narendra Modi masks at a makeshift kiosk in Upper Bazar, Ranchi, on Wednesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Laws are made to be broken. At least in Jharkhand.
Since the model of code of conduct came into force after the Lok Sabha elections were announced on March 5, the Ranchi district administration has registered three cases of violation. More than 600 are said to be in queue.
One involves cricket boss and JVM candidate from Ranchi parliamentary seat Amitabh Choudhary. The complaint lodged against Choudhary at Angara police station says he organised a protest meeting after the code was enforced. He has been booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC.
The two other cases have been registered with Lalpur police against the district presidents of Ajsu and BJP — Anil Tiger and Satya Narayan Singh, respectively.
The duo, who failed to remove party posters and banners from the city within 72 hours of declaration of the elections despite warnings from district electoral officer Vinay Kumar Choubey, have been booked under Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 1985.
SSP Prabhat Kumar confirmed the actions, which were taken on Tuesday, and said more cases would be registered soon.
An official at the Ranchi collectorate echoed him, saying the district administration had identified 690 people, associated with various political parties, to be booked for violation of the poll code.
According to Election Commission guidelines, a candidate needs to have a bank account for campaign purpose and cannot spend more than Rs 70 lakh through it. He/she or his/her party cannot display ads in public places. A candidate also cannot organise protests/meetings without prior permission of the district administration. He or she cannot woo voters with cash or kind, or flash the communal and caste card.
Asked for his comments, Ajsu district president Tiger said the district administration should have allowed them some more time to remove the advertisements.
“Pulling down all party posters and banners in 72 hours is a mammoth task. More time is needed. However, since the FIR has already been registered, I will ask party workers to comply with the administrative order as early as possible,” he added.
BJP district boss Singh echoed his Ajsu counterpart.
“The mistake is unintentional on our part. Directives have been issued to party workers to remove advertisement. The district administration must ask other political parties (read Congress and JMM) to do the same,” he said.
Despite several attempts, JVM’s Lok Sabha candidate Choudhary could not be contacted. His mobile phone remained switched off till the filing of this report.
The party’s election in-charge Rajeev Ranjan, however, vented his concern over the police complaint.
“The action is uncalled for. It has been taken on directions from the ruling party to harass our candidate. He (Choudhary) did not have any intention of violating the model code of conduct. He just went to talk to a group of agitating workers at Getalsud because he was passing through the area while returning to Ranchi from Angara block,” Ranjan said.