- The Election Commission of India (ECI) debarred DMK deputy general secretary from campaigning for 48 hours with immediate effect, besides reprimanding him for violation of the Model Code of Conduct for making certain remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi.
- Following a complaint from the AIADMK, the ECI had issued a notice to Mr. Raja.
- It also delisted Mr. Raja's name from the list of star campaigners of the DMK.
- Mr. Raja's interim reply to the notice issued by the Commission "was not found satisfactory".
- The Commission urged him to be watchful and not to make intemperate, indecent, derogatory, obscene remarks and lower the dignity of women in future during the election campaign.
- A star campaigner is a celebrity vote seeker in an election for a party. This person can be anyone, a politician or even a film star.
- There is no law governing who can or cannot be made a star campaigner.
- They are nominated by the concerned political parties specifying their constituencies and duration of the status.
- The ECI issues guidelines under the Model Code of Conduct regulating poll campaigns.
Numbers of Star Campaigners:
- A ‘recognised’ National or State party declared as such by the ECI can nominate a maximum of 40 star campaigners.
- An unrecognised political party can nominate a maximum of 20 star campaigners.
Need For Star Campaigners:
- The ECI keeps a tab on expenditure incurred by individual candidates during campaign - Rs. 70 lakh for most states in one constituency by each candidate.
- Expenditure incurred on electioneering by the star campaigner is not added to a candidate’s poll expenditure giving him/her more scope for expenditure.
- However, for an individual candidate to get relief from campaign expenditure, the star campaigner has to limit oneself to general campaigning for the party.
- According to the Representation of People’s Act, these expenses will be borne by the political parties.
Prime Minister as Star Campaigner:
- The MCC guidelines say when a prime minister or a former prime minister is star campaigner, the expenditure incurred on security including on the bullet-proof vehicles will be borne by the government and will not be added to the election expenses of the party or the individual candidate.
- However, if another campaigner travels with the prime minister, the individual candidate will have to bear 50% of the expenditure incurred on the security arrangements.
Challenge of Delisting from Star Campaigner List:
- Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which relates to a candidate’s election expenditure, leaves it to the political party itself to decide who its “leaders” are and allows every party to submit a list of such ‘star campaigners’ to the election authorities.
- As the expenditure on the star campaigners is not included in the expenditure of the candidate concerned, an order of the ECI revoking the star status is actually a withdrawal of the right to campaign without incurring electoral expenditure on the candidates’ account.
Model Code of Conduct(MCC):
What is MCC?
- These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
- This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates EC to conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.
When it comes into force?
- So far, the Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
- The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
- The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.