It is that time of the poll season when politicians have to be at their best behaviour, with an eye on the model code of conduct. They know a wrong move can invite action from the Election Commission, something many of them are not exactly used to.
Usually a law unto themselves, drawing power from the red beacon and security guards, politicians in the state are finding it difficult to adjust to the new environment, having been forced to constantly look over their shoulders lest they be booked for violations.
ďI donít give a damn about such a code of conduct. I would rather not contest the election than be bound by such impractical rules that donít recognise traditions and customs,Ē Industry Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya said on Monday at Dussehra programme in Indore. His outburst followed a series of complaints against him over the past few days by his rivals. On one occasion, he was photographed giving cash to drum-beaters and on another accused of showering gifts on young girls.
ďItís our culture to give gifts after kanya pujan and giving money to the drum-beaters is a ritual. I canít shun tradition, if it violates the code of conduct so be it. Tomorrow the Election Commission might say stop touching the feet of your father... I wonít accept (such a code) even if it means not contesting the election,íí he said.
The Congress has lodged another complaint against him for this. But he is definitely not alone to feel that the code has put unreasonable restrictions.
BJP election management committee chief Anil Dave has accused the poll panel of denying the politicians the religious freedom they enjoy under the constitution. He was referring to the curbs on participation of politicians in religious events.
The code coincided with Navratri and Dussehra festivities that politicians make a point to attend. At several places, invitation cards for Dussehra functions had already been printed. So careful were some politicians and organisers that they got the cards reprinted or tried to withdraw those already distributed.
The impact of the code was visible on Monday when politicians skipped events or took care not to sit on the dais because the Election Commission had announced its staff would videograph all major events. The events were different from previous years when local politicians used to steal the limelight.
Congress leaders too have been at the receiving end of complaints but their number is much less