Rath Prabhari Scheme: Former Secretary Sarma Asks Govt to Disclose Details of Correspondence With ECI
E A S Sarma. File Image
EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has written to the Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, asking the letter to disclose the details of the correspondence between his office and the Election Commission of India (ECI) that led to the suspension of the Rath Prabhari campaign in the poll-bound states.
Earlier this month, the Central government, in a letter, told all its departments that Joint Secretaries, Directors, and Deputy Secretaries would be deployed as "Rath Prabharis" during the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, aimed at highlighting the alleged accomplishments of the nine years of the Modi government.
However, after the opposition parties criticised the letter, the government clarified that instead of "Rath Prabharis," the government officers would be addressed as nodal officers.
A few hours after the government's clarification, the ECI issued a notice "saying that these activities should not be undertaken in the constituencies where the Model Code of Conduct is in force till December 5" due to Assembly elections.
"It has been brought to the notice of the Commission that a letter has been circulated to the Ministries for the nomination of senior officers as "District Rath Praharis" as special officers for the proposed 'Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra 'starting from November 20, 2023," the EC notice said.
“The Commission has announced the schedule for General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan & Telangana, 2023 and Bye–election in 43–Tapi (ST) Assembly Constituency of Nagaland on October 9, 2023. The provisions of the Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates have come into force from the date of announcement tentatively till December 5, 2023,” it said.
“In view of the foregoing, [the] Commission has directed that the aforesaid activities should not be taken in the constituencies where Model Code of Conduct is in force till December 5 2023.”
In his letter to Gauba, Sarma said that he wishes to seek the details of the correspondence of the latter with the ECI under Section 6 of the RTI Act.
"Even at this belated stage, I suggest that you make a public disclosure of the said correspondence. Even otherwise, I hope that your office responds to my RTI application with a sense of urgency and public-spiritedness and provides me with the relevant information within the next couple of days, as otherwise, it would lead to the inevitable inference that, for some questionable reason, the government is reluctant to take the public into confidence," Sarma said.
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