The announcement of populist schemes, laying of foundation stones for development works across the State and the various people-centric announcements by the State government, which had reached a crescendo over the past fortnight, apparently with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections, have all come to a halt with the Chief Election Commissioner announcing the poll schedule.
Polling in Karnataka will be held on April 17 but the Model Code of Conduct will be in force for over two months from now, and for over a month after the polling date. The code will last nearly 75 days, in all, in the State.
In other words, the State government will have to function under the overall purview of the Election Commission, although on the conclusion of polling, the government can seek relaxation on a variety of matters, on a case-to-case basis. The Congress government went into an overdrive to announce and implement several populist schemes and a string of Government Orders was also issued over the past few days and so were the transfers and postings of officials in the higher echelons of the government, particularly those in the police wing who have a direct role in election management at all levels.
Sources in the State Secretariat told The Hindu that several Government Orders were issued on Wednesday, although policy decisions for these orders had been ratified much earlier.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who travelled to several of the northern districts in connection with a string of development programmes on Wednesday, had to restrict his participation in a few of them, and had also to seek the approval of the Election Commission for others.
It is said that the programme in Belgaum relating to the Gram Sadak Yojana (of the Union Government) was gone through in the nick of time, prior to the announcement of the election schedule, and without the attendance of the Chief Minster who arrived just then.
Interestingly, in Belgaum, the Chief Minister and Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj H.K. Patil had to change over from their official cars to private cars.
Sources in the State Secretariat said that directions have been issued to all departments to withdraw official cars of all Ministers, chairpersons of boards and corporations and the heads of all elected bodies.