The Election Commission on Sunday said it found no violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the NITI Aayog in sharing information with the Prime Minister’s Office, PTI reported.
Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said the prime minister is exempted from the provision that bars ministers from combining official visits with campaigning. The exemption was introduced in October 2014. “It was not a one-time exemption but a standing instruction,” Saxena said.
Saxena said that other ministers cannot combine campaign trips with official ones, according to IANS.
An unidentified Election Commission official said the NITI Aayog had not shared any political data, but district-level data with the Prime Minister’s Office.
The poll body had written to NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant on May 4, flagging the allegations made by the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had claimed the Prime Minister’s Office had directed the NITI Aayog to write to bureaucrats at places where the prime minister was scheduled to campaign, and ask them to send information about the local area ahead of Modi’s visits to these places. Singhvi alleged that the district officials were told to send the information within a day.
The Congress’s complaint cited a report published by Scroll.in on April 10 that said a NITI Aayog official had written to collectors of three districts in Maharashtra ahead of Modi’s rallies there. Another email accessed by Scroll.in was sent by an official in the NITI Aayog to bureaucrats in all Union territories on April 8.
The Congress said the NITI Aayog’s actions were in violation of the Election Commission’s instructions prohibiting the misuse of government resources in election campaigning.