Union Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh on Sunday denied the Election Commission's charge that he had prima facie violated the model of conduct for elections by announcing plans for reservation in elite educational institutions and said that the Centre had not decided on the percentage of reservation.
In his reply to the Commission's communication, which sought his comments on the reported move as the election process is on in five states, Singh said, "There was no announcement of any concession much less any other breach of the model code of conduct. There is no basis even for a prima facie view to that effect."
A Central government decision with regard to percentage of reservation of seats is yet to be taken, Singh told the EC, which had on Saturday said that his announcement prima facie amounted to breach of the code of conduct as it gave new concessions to certain sections of the electorate in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Pondicherry.
"It is unfortunate that the Commission has issued the communication to the Cabinet Secretary merely on the basis of what it calls 'various reports appearing in the electronic and print media' and has concluded that the alleged announcement 'amounts to new concession to certain sections of the electorate' in the five states, Singh said.
"What is more, it has also been concluded (by EC) that it prima facie violates the Model Code of Conduct without mentioning which provision of the model code of conduct the Commission had in view," he added.
Citing newspaper clippings for his claim, he said when a specific question was put to him as to when the government proposed to announce the decision, his reply was that the decision 'would be taken and announced only after the elections' to the five state assemblies were over.
"I categorically deny that at any time before or on April five, 2006, or subsequently, any announcement has been made in respect of any percentage of reservations in favour of any sections of the society or have said anything on the matter which is not already in the public domain or which is inconsistent with the all-party consensus arrived at in Parliament leading to the Constitutional amendment," he said.
Recalling remarks attributed to him at the NCERT function on April five, Singh said he had made a reference to the constitutional amendment and made it clear that the necessary follow-up action was underway and decision would follow after assembly polls.
Urging the Commission to drop the proceedings against him in view of his factual position, Singh said he was releasing the clarification to 'set at rest any misgivings in public mind in this regard.'