The Election Commission Model Code of Conduct clearly states that parties cannot eulogise personal achievements on official government social media.

Did Tamil Nadu CMs official Twitter handle violate poll codePTI
news Lok Sabha 2019 Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 18:08

On Wednesday, a day after the ruling AIADMK in the state released its election manifesto for the General Elections, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami made an impassioned plea to party cadres. “We need to get into election work in such a way so as to remind everyone that we, the AIADMK, are matchless in doing diligent electoral work across south India... Our one-and-a-half crore cadres need to take a vow to uphold Amma’s last wish that even a hundred years after her demise, the AIADMK should be in power.” Crafted in eloquent Tamil, the letter adds to the colourful campaign landscape that paints the country as it prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Except, there was just one problem: the letter was published from the Chief Minister’s official Twitter handle, despite the Election Commission calling for a scrupulous avoidance of eulogising personal achievements on official government social media in its Model Code of Conduct.

According to the EC’s poll code which came into effect on March 10, “The Election Commission has instructed that partisan coverage of ministers highlighting and eulogizing their personal achievements on various official websites of Govt. Departments and social media, in order to furthering the prospects of party in power should be scrupulously avoided during the period Model Code is in force.” The MCC makes mention of this in clause 9.2 of Chapter 9 of the poll code, dealing with the 'display of photo/ message on official website/ govt. buildings/ advertisement."

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had earlier announced that the Model Code of Conduct would apply to social media. “All provisions of the Model Code of Conduct shall also apply to the content being posted on social media by candidates and political parties,” he had said.

The tweet from the Chief Minister’s handle read, “Announcement of AIADMK Joint Coordinator and Honourable Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Thiru Edappadi Palaniswami.” Attached were images of the letter dated March 19, bearing official ruling party stationery. The same letter had been published on Tuesday evening on the official Twitter account of the party.

“The Congress party, which had been in power for over 50 years, won only a total of 44 constituencies in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections whereas in the state of Tamil Nadu where there are only 39 seats, we won 37 and went on to win 13 seats in the Upper House, becoming the third largest party thanks to Epic Mother Amma (former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa)... We know that the DMK will initiate the spread of rumours, cheat voters, and mislead them. The DMK, which does not have faith in people’s power, will indulge in a number of conspiracies,” read the letter.

Extolling the ‘Himalayan good governance’ that the party had achieved across issues, such as the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and the bringing of AIIMS to Tamil Nadu, the letter also said, “Thus, party cadres should explain our achievement to the people with pride and humility and bring victory to our shores.”

“By combining the victory in the Lok Sabha elections with our victory in the bye-polls to the 18 assembly constituencies, we should fulfill Amma’s dream of ruling for 100 years. In order to do that, party sepoys must prepare right now, flowing like a flood,” the letter added.

A perusal of the Chief Minister’s official Twitter handle also reveals a tweetstorm from Tuesday, when the AIADMK manifesto was released.

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