New Delhi/ Chandigarh: Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi has slammed Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal for asking the Election Commission to advise its officials not to overstep their mandate in the state.
"I am particularly disappointed that you have chosen to communicate with me and the Commission through the media rather than directly for which several channels are always available," Quraishi was quoted as saying by the media in a strongly worded reply to the Punjab Chief Minister.
The strong reaction from the CEC came a day after Badal urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ask its officials in the state "to act within the parameters of their constitutional brief" ahead of the Jan 30 Assembly elections.
“The election officials in Punjab) should treat the observance of the model code of election conduct as their primary task. No should over-step their constitutional mandate," Badal said.
"There is a difference between enforcing the model code of conduct for a free and fair poll on the one hand, and bringing the whole state to the brink of an administrative paralysis and developmental standstill, on the other. I have to appeal to the CEC to issue necessary directions to its officials to respect this crucial line," Badal said.
Defending Badal, his spokesman said in Chandigarh, “The Chief Minister was just "politely reminding the Election Commission officials" that even during the election code period, there is a democratically elected and constitutionally accountable government in the state, whose primary responsibility it is to maintain peace and law and order and to ensure smooth good governance for the benefit of the state and its people."
Badal said that "unfortunately the manner in which the EC officials were taking their decisions is causing confusion about the lines of administrative control in the state and this can have negative impact on the morale and efficiency of the law enforcing machinery. And that can be dangerous for peace and law and order".
Quraishi said, “Let me assure you that the Commission operates within diligent awareness of its constitutional mandate and recognizes with the greatest respect the operational boundaries between various Constitutional bodies," adding "...the Commission is concerned that you (Badal) have made general allegations of interference against its officials and questioned their conduct without any basis."
Badal`s harsh words had come after the Election Commission said that the Punjab Government could not implement the order abolishing octroi on petrol and diesel on the day on which the date for the forthcoming Assembly Elections in the state was announced.
The polls in Punjab will be held on January 30.