New Delhi: A day after the Election Commission (EC) issued a notice to Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi for violating the model code of conduct in Gujarat, the party accused the Commission of becoming a “puppet and frontal organisation” of the BJP for failing to take action against the prime minister for holding a road show soon after casting his vote in Ahmedabad today.
Rahul had been pulled up by the EC for giving an interview to television channels after campaigning for the second and final round of polling in the state had ended.
The Congress said the prime minister had conducted a road show and thereby violated the model code of conduct by walking up to the crowds who had gathered outside the polling booth and then waving to them from the footboard of his vehicle.
Senior party leaders later also submitted a memorandum to the EC against Modi’s alleged violation of the model code of conduct.
“It is a sad day for the country as EC has denigrated the constitution,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala charged at a press conference organised by the party at the All India Congress Committee headquarters in New Delhi. He said the poll panel had denigrated into a “puppet and frontal organisation” of the ruling BJP and charged that the “CEC (chief election commissioner) was acting like the prime minister’s PS”.
“The rules,” Surjewala said, “are different for the Congress and newspapers, TV channels airing Gandhi’s interviews, which were not violation of the code of conduct. But at the same time, no action is being taken against the prime minister.” He added that when the Congress lodged a complaint about the prime minister to the EC, it was told that a reply would be given after 5 pm.
Reacting strongly to this, Surjewala was quoted by news agency ANI as saying: “Mukhya Chunav Aayukt jo PS to Modi ji the aaj bhi PS to Modi ji ki terah kaam kar rahe hain. Ye chunav aayog ke liye sharm ki baat hai (The CEC who was like a PS to Modi earlier is still operating like one. This is shameful for the Election Commission)”.
His remarks were a clear reference to the urgency the EC showed yesterday in issuing a notice to Congress president-elect after an interview given by him was aired by television channels. The party was also peeved that the Commission had not taken notice of its complaint against Modi’s speech at an event organised by FICCI.
The EC notice to Rahul as “star campaigner” of Indian National Congress had held that by giving interview and its display on TV channels on December 13, he had “prima facie violated the above mentioned provisions of para 1(4) of the Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and Election Commission’s lawful instructions in this regard.”
Further, the notice issued by Varinder Kumar, principal secretary of EC, said “the Election Commission hereby gives you an opportunity to explain by 5 pm of December 18 as to why action should not be taken against you for violating the aforesaid provisions of the model code of conduct, failing which the Commission will decide the matter without any further reference to you.”
However, as images of Prime Minister Modi carrying out the alleged “road show” emerged today, the EC did not take any immediate notice. This despite Modi himself tweeting his photo after he had cast his vote.
Cast my vote for the 2017 Gujarat polls. pic.twitter.com/mXd9GTRvtb
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 14, 2017
A delegation of Congress leaders today reached the EC in the afternoon and submitted a memorandum, a copy of which was tweeted by Surjewala.
— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) December 13, 2017
Our fresh memorandum to the Election Commission regarding the flagrant violation of Model Code of Conduct by the PM & complete abdication of its Constitutional authority pic.twitter.com/yg3LNS46Rj
— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) December 14, 2017