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EC issues notice over Modi's 'mangalsutra' speech

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: April 25, 2024 21:58 IST
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Taking cognisance for the first time of a model code violation complaint against a prime minister, the Election Commission on Thursday issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party president J P Nadda on Opposition charge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a divisive speech in Rajasthan's Banswara.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Sagar on April 25, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Separately, the poll panel also issued a notice to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, asking him to respond to the complaints filed by the BJP against him and the main opposition party's senior leader Rahul Gandhi regarding their remarks.

In the notice sent to Nadda, the Election Commission sought his response by Monday to the complaints filed by the Congress, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist and civil society groups regarding the remarks made by Modi on April 21 in Banswara.


These complaints had referred to Modi's allegations that the Congress wanted to redistribute the wealth of the people to Muslims and that the opposition party won't even spare the 'mangalsutra' of women.

The speech led to a major political slugfest with the Congress and other opposition parties accusing the prime minister of making false claims and the BJP alleging that the Congress was nursing an agenda of Muslim appeasement at the cost of weaker sections of the society.

The EC also asked Nadda to bring to the notice of all star campaigners of the party to 'set high standards of political discourse and observe provisions of model code of conduct in letter and spirit'.

The poll panel also said that campaign speeches made by those holding high positions have more serious consequences.

Officials said it is the first time that the panel has taken cognisance of a complaint against any prime minister.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the EC had given a clean chit to Modi on complaints lodged by the opposition parties. Then election commissioner, Ashok Lavasa, gave a dissent note on some of the decisions taken by the EC on complaints against the prime minister.

The EC has invoked provisions (Section 77) of the Representation of the People Act to hold party presidents accountable as the first step to rein in star campaigners.

According to the poll panel, it has taken a view that while individual star campaigners would continue to remain responsible for speeches made by them, the Commission will address party chiefs 'on a case-to-case basis'.

With this, the EC has ensured an 'added layer' of responsibility on party heads, the functionaries explained.

Recently, Kharge was asked to explain remarks made by two of his party leaders against women.

The poll authority issued a similarly-worded notice separately to the Congress president with regard to allegations levelled by the BJP against him and Gandhi.

The EC notices to the two-party presidents did not directly name either Modi, Gandhi or Kharge, but the representations received by it were attached to the respective letters and they contained details of allegations against the three leaders.

The BJP, on the other hand, had written to the EC that Gandhi levelled mala fide and utterly sinister allegations against Modi during a speech in Kottayam, Kerala where he alleged that the prime minister was pushing for one nation, one language, one religion.

The BJP said that in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Gandhi alleged that the prime minister was attacking 'our language, history and tradition'.

It also accused Kharge of violating the model code by claiming that he was not invited to the Ram temple consecration ceremony due to discrimination against SCs and STs.

Public pressure forced EC's hand: Congress

The Congress on Thursday claimed that public pressure forced the Election Commission's hand.

The EC is 'super, super cautious' when it comes to the prime minister, Congress general secretary in-charge Jairam Ramesh said.

He pointed out that the EC has issued a notice to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on BJP's complaint against Rahul Gandhi's remarks and wondered whether this was what the poll body meant by 'level playing field'.

"The Election Commission has issued notices to the BJP President for campaign remarks made by the PM, on which the Congress had filed a complaint. At the same time, in virtually identical language, it has issued a notice to the Congress President on remarks made by Shri Rahul Gandhi, on which the BJP had complained," Ramesh said.

"Is this what the EC means by a 'level playing field'? It is clear that public pressure, motivated by the PM's outrageous remarks, have forced the EC's hand. But did it have to compensate by sending a notice on Rahul Gandhi's remarks as well?" he said.

By equating the two, the Commission has drawn attention to its own compulsions, Ramesh said.

By any standard, the equivalence is 'bizarre' and 'completely unwarranted and unjustified', he said.

'Meanwhile BJP candidates brazenly continue to use religious symbols in their election campaign,' Ramesh said in a post on X.

Earlier, asked about the development at a press conference, Ramesh said, "We had complained to the Election Commission. We brought to their notice that the PM's language is against the Model Code of Conduct, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and various verdicts of the Supreme Court."

"There has been a delay, we have also complained about some other candidates misusing religion for votes. We believe that the EC will take action. We will reply to the notice we have got," he said.

Highlighting that the notice has been given to the BJP president, Ramesh asked one should also look into why has the notice been given.

"There had been no complaint against (former PMs) P V Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. This is the second time we have complained against the PM. We had earlier complained about the home minister (Amit Shah) but no action was taken, action was taken against Assam chief minister," Ramesh said.

"We expect that the Election Commission impartially considers the complaints of various parties and wherever there is the need for a notice, they should give," he said.

Asked if the party feels that the notice should have been given to the prime minister, Ramesh said, "They are super, super cautious when it comes to the prime minister, they are super cautious when it comes to the home minister."

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
India Votes 2024

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