Election Commission pulls up Rahul; Modi gets notice over poll code violation

The Election Commission has pulled up Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for having violated the model code of conduct with his “communal” remarks during poll speeches in Rajasthan andMadhya Pradesh last month. The commission has advised him to be more circumspect in his public utterances during election campaigns.

The commission, in an order issued on Wednesday, said it took exception to the “tone, tenor and content” of Gandhi’s speeches, wherein he had accused the BJP of instigating one community against the other and suggested that Pakistan’s ISI was in touch with youth affected by Muzaffarnagar riots.

“Having regard to totality of facts and circumstances of the case and submissions and contentions made by you in your reply … the commission hereby conveys its displeasure and advises you to be more circumspect in your public utterances …” the EC conveyed to Rahul in its order.

Stating that the commission was not satisfied with Gandhi scion’s explanation that his remarks were only a criticism of BJP’s policies and progammes and that the emphasis of his speeches was on maintenance of communal harmony rather than creating hatred or communal tension, the EC held that his utterances were not in consonance with the spirit of the model code.

The model code prohibits speeches that aggravate differences between religious communities and restrains politicians from criticizing rival parties based on unverified allegations.

Rahul had, in his reply to the EC notice over his Churu and Indore speeches last month, denied any violation of the model code, claiming that he was only criticising the BJP’s policies. He said his contentions linking BJP to communal riots were based on facts established by various judicial commissions and by the guiding philosophy of the party as reflected on its website.

The EC however rejected his explanation.

Rahul was issued notice by the EC based on BJP’s complaints. The party had moved EC though its state units in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Rajya Sabha MP R Ramakrishna as well as its central unit. The party had demanded action against him for violating the poll code and even suggested that an FIR be registered against him under Section 153A of the IPC (creating communal tension). The EC had rejected the latter demand.

The Election Commission on also issued a notice to BJP’s prime ministerial candidateNarendra Modi over his ” khooni panja” and “zaalim haath” remarks, holding that they prima facie violated the model code of conduct.

The EC notice cited sub para (2) of Para 1 of the model code, which provides that “criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and works … criticism of other parties and their workers based on unverified allegations and distortions shall be avoided”.

Modi has been asked to reply to the EC notice by 5pm on November 16, explaining why action should not be taken against him for violation of the model code. In case he fails to reply within this deadline, the EC said it would presume that he had nothing to say and would take apprpriate action without any further reference to him.

Modi had, during a campaign speech in Rajnandgaon on November 7, asked the people if they wanted to vote for a “khooni haath” (killer hand). Alleging that the three years of Congress rule in the state were marked by misery, the BJP star campaigner claimed that “it was chief minister Raman Singh who saved Chhattisgarh from this cruel hand.”