New Delhi: A delegation of senior Congress leaders met the Election Commission (EC) to formally complain about three major issues, yesterday, on Tuesday, November 28. This included “reiterating one of its earlier complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct”, reports The Hindu.
The Indian Express also reports that the Congress complaint termed the speeches by Modi and Shah as “false, derogatory and vitriolic”.
Senior advocate, MP and Congress Working Committee member Abhishek Singhvi told the media, “The first [of the three complaints was]…the Hon’ble Prime Minister talking in idiom and calling the opposition leaders Murkhon ka Sardar [leader of fools]. The second is the one which actually involves the home minister in which he has ascribed the ‘Rahu-Ketu’ syndrome to the leaders of the Congress party.”
The Congress stated, “These provocative statements are being made deliberately as part of a consistent pattern of personal, unproven and baseless attacks made against the Gandhi family since 2013. Not once since then has the Hon’ble Commission stepped in to correct the discourse and take action against these offenders. It is high time that the Hon’ble Commission enforce its mandate against the individuals in question who are habitual offenders in this regard. No matter how high they may be, no individual is above the law in a democracy governed by the Constitution of India and the law must apply to all equally.”
EC Silence on complaints about Modi and Shah?
Complaints of the PM Narendra Modi allegedly defying norms and rules of the model code of conduct (MCC), made by the opposition and not getting a response from the Election Commission were first remarked upon during the 2019 general elections. Referring to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Kerala’s Wayanad, Modi, in Wardha on April 1, 2019, had said the party is taking “refuge in areas where the majority is in minority”.
EC had then held that there was “no such violation” of the code. There was also a storm over Modi in speeches on April 1 and April 9, 2019 in Maharashtra, where he was alleged to have made references to the India’s defence forces when making an appeal for votes. But the EC found nothing wrong.
During the Karnataka state assembly elections in May 2023, Modi said, “Chant ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ while casting your votes.” He was also reported to have said,“Please cast your vote and do not forget to chant Jai Bajrang Bali when you exercise your franchise.” But the EC did not make any comments about the connection Modi drew.
Ashok Lavasa (now retired) was the only member of the EC who in 2019, refused to give a clean chit to PM Modi and Amit Shah, in as many as five cases of alleged violations, as internal documents of the EC were reported upon by The Indian Express. He was, in an unprecedented and shocking move for a person set to be the next chief election commissioner, eased out shortly after the BJP’s re-election and Lavasa joined the Asian Development Bank. Subsequent deployment of central agencies was also deemed controversial.
Congress’ concerns over MP and Telangana
The alleged attempts at “tampering of postal ballots” by the District Electoral Officer in Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh were also raised by the Congress delegation and they sought “immediate action” against the officials responsible. Singhvi said they had evidence, that “shows the District Election Officer tampering with postal ballots”. He said, after the meeting with the EC, “we raised the issue directly with the Election Commission as to who will guard the guardians? Who will guard the guardians, who will police the guardians?”
The video had been submitted to the EC. Madhya Pradesh Congress chief and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath has also posted the video on his social media handle and questioned the neutrality of EC officials concerned.
The third complaint the Congress discussed was their serious apprehension that just ahead of the polling in Telangana, due on Thursday, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) may try to defy the ban on campaigning during the ‘silence period’ through other means. They urged the EC to ensure this does not happen.
Both Singhvi and former union minister Salman Khurshid went to the EC. Congress treasurer Ajay Maken and senior leader Dr. Ajoy Kumar joined the meeting online.