The Congress is up in arms against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government’s decision to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, before the results are declared on December 11 for the November 28 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections.
The cabinet meeting is to be held at 10.30 am on Wednesday at Vallabh Bhavan, the usual venue for state cabinet meetings. The Congress has termed the proposed cabinet meeting ‘unwarranted’ and ‘without precedence’ and complained to the Madhya Pradesh chief election officer, V Kantharao.
Congress spokesperson J P Dhanopia said, “When the model code of conduct is in place, the chief minister and the government can only act as caretakers. They cannot take part in government functions or use official machinery in any way. They cannot hold cabinet meetings and take decisions. Moreover, there is no precedence of such cabinet meetings. If cabinet ministers want to meet, let them go for picnic”.
Dhanopia said Kantharao had told the party that he has forwarded the complaint to the chief election commissioner. CEO Kantharao said he had not received any intimation from the government about a cabinet meeting, but said no policy decisions can be taken at this stage. “I cannot comment any further.”
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not see anything wrong in holding a cabinet meeting. Parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra made it clear that the party was not going to seek permission from the CEO to hold the meeting. “There is no need (to take permission). We are going to discuss routine things about the affairs of the state. We will not take any policy decisions,” he said.
Legal expert and Congress MP Vivek Tankha said, “It is conventionally not done and is inappropriate. It has a different connotation in the Constitution. It (a cabinet meeting) is for governance, governmental work and that cannot be conducted once the model code of conduct (kicks in), under which political governance takes a back seat.”