New Delhi: The citizen who earlier this month alleged that the Election Commission (EC) refused to act on his repeated complaints about the prime minister’s alleged violations of the model code of conduct (MCC), has now accused the poll panel of itself violating the code guidelines.
In a complaint sent to the EC on April 20, Mahendra Singh, president of the West Bengal Forum for Mental Health, wrote that by not acting on his repeated complaints about code violations by Modi, the poll panel violated MCC guidelines provided in chapter 23, page 227.
These guidelines, he said, clearly spell out that “Complainants will also be informed of the action taken by SMS and by the call centre. Complainants can also see the details of the action taken on their complaints. This system should be operational within 24 hours of the announcement. All complaints should be dealt with promptly and properly.”
‘Are CEC, ECs deliberately not taking action against Modi’
With the EC not providing any answers to why action has not been taken on his complaint against Modi, Singh asked: “When the guidelines are so clearly articulated by ECI in writing to all political parties and their strict compliance sought, then where is the scope for the Commission to sit on my complaint?”
He said if a report was submitted to the Commission on April 14 by the district and state officials, then “what is the justification of three ECI commissioners and their subordinate officials for not acting on it?”
“Are they themselves not responsible for the delay in taking action on the complaint?” he asked.
First complaint filed on April 9, report submitted on April 14
However, Singh said that on the first complaint against Modi on April 9, the EC had not responded. When he sent a reminder on April 12 to the chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and the two ECs, he got an acknowledgement saying that action would be taken in two days. However, instead, the online status of the complaint was shown to be “default”.
Singh followed up with a second reminder on April 13. This time he wrote that he has been provided with some control room numbers by EC which were either switched off or not being answered.
Singh reminded the poll panel that it was duty-bound to act on the complaint.
On April 15, Singh received a call from the EC’s director, who assured him that the grievance would be looked into and resolved. The same evening, Singh also received a message from the EC portal that his complaint has been disposed. On the portal as well, the status of the complaint had changed from ‘default’ to ‘Report Submitted to ECI on 14th April’.
However, there was still no information on the action taken.
Complainant accused PM of repeatedly violating code
On April 16, Singh sent his third reminder along with a mention of how the prime minister was “continuously taking advantage of non-action by Election Commission against its own direction of not to use the achievements of India’s armed forces for political campaigning purpose.”
Then, on April 18, he sent his fourth reminder. This time he cited a Supreme Court observation that it was ‘happy that the EC has found its power’ and hoped that his complaint would be acted upon. He referred to how the previous day, the PM again used the Balakot airstrike for political purposes while addressing a rally at Balodabazar district in Chhattisgarh.
EC guidelines on MCC are clear
Singh also noted that the Election Commission guidelines issued on April 5 to president/chairperson/general secretary of all recognised national and state political parties had spelt out the instructions on the observance of MCC.
This note reiterated that:
“No appeal shall be made on basis of caste/communal feelings of the electors.
No activity, which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes/communities /religious/linguistic groups, shall be attempted.
No aspect of the private life, not connected with the public activities, of the leaders or workers of other parties is to be criticised.
Criticism of other parties or their workers on the basis of unverified allegations or on distortions shall be avoided.
No temples/mosques/churches/gurdwaras or any place or worship is to be used for election propaganda, including speeches, posters, music etc, or electioneering, and
The candidates/campaigners/political leaders are to desist from displaying photograph of defence personnel or photograph of functions involving defence personnel in advertisement, or otherwise as part of their election propaganda/campaigning. They are also advised to desist from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of defence forces.”
Action sought against officials responsible for delay
On his latest complaint, Singh said that from the evening of April 15 to April 24, the online status of his complaint was showing as “Resolved”. However, on the night of April 24, it changed to “In Progress”.
He said that since no action had been taken on the complaint for a fortnight since its filing, the CEC and district election commissioner should take stringent action against ECI officials who are responsible for the delay.