Election Commission of India (ECI) will announce the dates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections at 5 pm on Sunday.

The biggest political battle will begin after the Election Commission of India (ECI) will announce the dates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections at 5 pm on Sunday. With the announcement of election schedule the model code of conduct (MCC) will come into force, which means all the political parties will have to follow the guidelines of ECI from Sunday evening and will remain in effect until the election process is concluded.  

Through the MCC, the election commission list down dos and don’ts for the political parties and candidates for the entire electoral process. This is done to ensure free and fair elections and amongst other things, the code restricts the central and state government from announcing policy decisions.

In 2014, the elections schedule was announced on March 5 in nine-phases which was held between April 7 and May 12 and the results were declared on May 16.


Here is all you need to know about MCC:

What is the Model Code of Conduct?

The Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines to regulate each political parties and candidates during the period of elections. Candidates need to adhere from the day of announcement of polls till the results. To ensure fair elections, EC’s guideline applies contains eight provisions related to general conduct, meetings, processions, polling day, polling booths, observers, the party in power, and election manifestos. This code of conduct stays in force from February 10 to the date of announcement to the day of result.

The MCC was first mooted by Kerala in its 1960 assembly elections. It was later adopted by the Election Commission (EC) during mid-term elections in 1968 and 1969. It has since been updated many times in the past.

What does MCC restrict

- The MCC guidelines have clear directions for the party in power in the centre and in states that they should ensure that no one misuses their official position for campaigning. This clearly means that no policy, project or scheme can be announced that can influence the voting behaviour.

-The governing party cannot induct any ad-hoc appointments in government offices which may influence the voters

-The party in power cannot use exchequers money for advertisements or use official mass media for publicity on achievements to improve chances of victory in the elections.

-The ministers and other government authorities cannot combine official visits with election work or use official machinery for the political gain.

-No government infrastructure or resources like transport or stationary can be used by the ruling party for their campaigns.

-To ensure that even oppositions parties get an equal opportunity by providing them public places such as maidans, halls etc, for holding election meetings, and facilities like the use of helipads on the same terms and conditions.

- Political parties or candidates can be criticised based only on their work record and no caste and communal sentiments can be used to lure voters.

- No party or candidate can indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.

- Places of worships like temples, mosques, gurudwaras cannot be used for campaigning.

- Bribing, intimidating or impersonation of voters is also barred.

 - All posters and banners of political parties have to be removed by municipal corporations within 24 hrs.

- All posters and banners of government schemes featuring the PM, CM, and Ministers or other leaders have to be removed.

 - Wall paintings of similar nature have to be painted over


How is MCC enforced?

With the mandate to conduct free and fair elections, the EC ensures that all the political candidate and party in power adhere to their code under Article 324 of the Constitution.

The ECI can take action against candidates in case of malpractices, electoral offence, bribery, intimidation or influence. The commission has several mechanisms to track such an offence. It also works closely with security forces, enforcement agencies and makes the flying squad to maintain the code of conduct.

The ECI has recently introduced a mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.

In such case of any violation reported by political opponent and individuals, the ECI issue a notice to a politician or a party asking for their explanation.  

Once a notice is issued, the person or party must reply in writing — either accepting fault and tendering an unconditional apology or rebutting the allegation.