The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines issued by the EC (Election Commission) to ensure free and fair polls. It comes into force from the day EC announces the schedule for the elections, till the date the results are announced. According to Article 324 of the Constitution, the EC has the power to monitor the Centre, all the state governments, all the candidates and their respective.
With the announcement of the election schedule, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into force. Among other things, the code bars the government from announcing policy decisions.
MCC deals with eight provisions – general conduct, meetings, processions, polling day, polling booths, observers, party in power, and election manifestos.
Major provisions of the MCC are outlined below.
- General Conduct: Criticism of political parties must be limited to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Activities such as: (a) using caste and communal feelings to secure votes, (b) criticizing candidates on the basis of unverified reports, (c) bribing or intimidation of voters, and (d) organizing demonstrations or picketing outside houses of persons to protest against their opinions, are prohibited.
- Meetings: Parties must inform the local police authorities of the venue and time of any meeting in time to enable the police to make adequate security arrangements.
- Processions: If two or more candidates plan processions along the same route, organizers must establish contact in advance to ensure that the processions do not clash. Carrying and burning effigies representing members of other political parties is not allowed.
- Polling day: All authorized party workers at polling booths should be given identity badges. These should not contain the party name, symbol or name of the candidate.
- Polling booths: Only voters, and those with a valid pass from the Election Commission, will be allowed to enter polling booths.
- Observers: The Election Commission will appoint observers to whom any candidates may report problems regarding the conduct of the election.
- Party in power: The MCC incorporated certain restrictions in 1979, regulating the conduct of the party in power. Ministers must not combine official visits with election work or use official machinery for the same. The party must avoid advertising at the cost of the public exchequer or using official mass media for publicity on achievements to improve chances of victory in the elections. Ministers and other authorities must not announce any financial grants, or promise any construction of roads, provision of drinking water, etc. Other parties must be allowed to use public spaces and rest houses and these must not be monopolized by the party in power.
- Election manifestos: Added in 2013, these guidelines prohibit parties from making promises that exert an undue influence on voters, and suggest that manifestos also indicate the means to achieve promises.