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Rahul's talk with students to be probed for poll code violation

March 16, 2019 00:23 IST

The Tamil Nadu government has ordered an inquiry on how a college here gave its approval for Congress president Rahul Gandhi to interact with its students when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for elections is in force.

The top Congress leader, in his interaction with students of the Stella Maris College in Chennai on March 13, promised 33 per cent reservation in government jobs for women and answered several of their questions.

The Director of Collegiate Education, R Sarumathi directed a subordinate official to inquire 'immediately' on the matter and submit a report, official sources told PTI.

 

In a communique (dated March 14) to the Regional Joint Director, Chennai Zone, the director said in view of the Lok Sabha elections the MCC was in force and under such circumstances, sought to know 'how permission was granted' by the college for the event.

Sources said Stella Maris is one of the 10 government aided colleges in Chennai. Such institutions are not only bound by state norms, but are also expected to follow the MCC.

According to the MCC, displayed in the Election Commission website, 'use of educational institutions, including their grounds (whether government aided, private or government) for political campaigns and rallies is not allowed'.

When contacted, the college authorities declined to say if any inquiry was conducted by collegiate department officials.

The Chief Electoral Officer also did not comment. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President K S Alagiri dubbed the inquiry move as an act of 'vendetta', by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre through the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime in Tamil Nadu unable to tolerate the positive response especially from the youth to the event.

Political leaders taking part in college functions has been in vogue for a long time, he said.

The decision to invite Gandhi was taken a few months ago by the students association of the college.

Rahul Gandhi took part in the event only in his capacity as a Member of Parliament and not as the Congress president, he claimed, adding 'the Model Code of Conduct is not a bar to participate in such events as an MP'.

When Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo had said there was 'no violation' of the MCC, what right does the Collegiate department have to pursue the matter, he asked.

"If the Tamil Nadu government came forward to take steps against the reputed Stella Maris College, I would like to warn that it will lead to severe consequences," he said.

The Congress leader demanded withdrawal of the official communication tasking an official to probe the matter.

In his interaction with the students, Gandhi had brought up the issue of the Rafale deal and reiterated his allegations about the pricing of the aircraft and the process.

To a question on his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, he had said the law must apply to everybody and not be applied selectively.

"I will be the first person to say it... investigate Robert Vadra, but also investigate Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.

Vadra is being probed in connection with a money laundering case related to purchase of assets abroad and a land case in Rajasthan's Bikaner district.

Gandhi also questioned whether the Prime Minister could stand in a large audience and answer people's questions.

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