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Free vaccine promise not code violation: Election Commission

The Election Commission (EC) today held that the BJP’s promise of providing free Covid-19 vaccine in its manifesto for the Bihar Assembly elections “is not a violation of the model code of conduct”.

The order came on a complaint filed by Mumbai-based RTI activist Saket Gokhale, who had alleged that the promise was discriminatory and amounted to misuse of power.

Sources said the poll panel cited certain guidelines contained in Part VIII of the MCC to conclude that the free vaccine promise was not in violation of the norms.

“The Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution enjoin upon the state to frame various welfare measures for citizens. Therefore, there can be no objection to the promise of such welfare in an election manifesto,” the EC is learnt to have said, adding that the trust of voters can be sought “on promises which are possible to be fulfilled”.

Reacting to the order, Gokhale tweeted: “The ECI shockingly ignored the fact that the Union Government promised the vaccine for a specific state particularly when election atmosphere is vitiated.”

Earlier this month, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had released the BJP manifesto for the Bihar elections, which promised free Covid-19 vaccine once it was cleared by the ICMR.