ECI issues notice to BJP party, and not the star campaigner himself, over alleged hate speech delivered by PM Modi, seeks response by 11 am, April 29

The constitutional authority has forwarded complaints sent by Congress, CPI and CPI (ML), all of which had criticised the communal and inflammatory words used by PM MODI during election speech in Rajasthan in contravention to the election laws

2024On April 25, the Election Commission of India (ECI) took cognizance of alleged Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) star campaigner had faced serious criticism for delivering a communal and anti-minority speech in Banswara, Rajasthan on April 21 as a part of his election rally. Opposition parties, including Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist), activists and citizens had approached the ECI, urging them to take action against PM Modi for delivering a hate speech. In the complaint filed by Congress against PM Modi, multiple violations of the election laws and MCC had been underlined along with raised allegations of causing hatred and division based on religion, caste, community, or language.

As per the recent update, four days after the speech, the constitutional authority has now sought a response by the BJP party till 11 am on April 29. Through the notice issued to the party, the ECI has sought for BJP party president, JP Nadda, to respond to complaints filed by opposition parties wherein they have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of delivering a divisive and defamatory speech.

It is essential to note that this is the first time that the ECI has taken cognisance of complaints filed against any sitting prime minister. However, instead of issuing the notice to the particular individual alleged to be in violation of the laws, the ECI has invoked provisions of the Representation of the People Act to hold party presidents as the first step to rein in star campaigners. This comes after ECI had issued notices to other political leaders and candidates, such as Randeep Singh Surjewala (INC), Supriya Shrinate (INC), Atishi (AAP) and K Chandrashekar Rao (BRS), individually for allegedly violating Model Code of Conduct during campaigns.

Details of the notice issued to BJP for comments made by PM Modi:

In Modi’s April 21 rally in Banswara, Rajasthan, he had attacked Congress alleging that the said party is working to collect and distribute country’s wealth to Muslims, giving the latter the first right over country’s wealth. While referring to the religious minority community in his speech, PM Modi had used terms like “infiltrators” and “those who have more babies”. The said election speech stood in clear violation of Model Code of Conduct and the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, as it used religion to influence voters’ choices to adversely affect the opposition party, while benefitting from the same. (Details of the speech and the complaints moved to the ECI can be read here.) Notably, Citizens for Justice and Peace had also sent a complaint to the ECI, urging them to take cognizance of the hate speech delivered by PM Modi.

In the notice issued to the BJP party, the ECI has stated that the status of the ‘Star Campaigner’ statutorily lies within the realm of the Political Parties under the RPA. As per the ECI, it is the political parties that have to take primary and increasing responsibility for the conduct of their candidates in general and star campaigners in particular while election campaigning.

With this, the ECI sought the party’s response to various complaints forwarded to them by various entities and political parties. The ECI stated “The Commission is in receipt of representations from various political parties/ civil society organizations and individual entities alleging violation of the Model Code of Conduct by speeches made during campaigning by some of your star campaigners. Whereas, these speeches are alleged to be in violation of MCC.”

Stating that they have held the political party responsible rather than the particular individual as “In view of the foregoing and the plenary power of the political parties to nominate or withdraw the star campaigner’s status with associated responsibility and authority to control their star campaigners, the Commission has taken a view that while the individual star campaigner would continue to remain responsible for speeches made, the Commission will address party President / Head of the political party, on case-to-case basis”

Emphasising upon the need for the Party president to set high standards for the party’s star campaigners, the ECI stated in its notice that “You are also directed, as President of the National Party to bring to the notice of all your star campaigners to set high standards of political discourse and observe provisions of MCC in letter and spirit.”

Details of the various complaints forwarded to BJP against PM Modi:

It is essential to note that with the notice, the ECI sent the BJP party a copy of the representation made by Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation on April 21 and by Communist Party of India on April 23.

Indian National Congress:

In the complaint raised by the Congress party, it was alleged that through the Banswara speech, PM Modi had “blatantly violated electoral laws as well as the Indian Penal Code”. Urging the same, Congress called for the constitutional authority to exercise their powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and take action against PM Modi.

In the complaint, Congress stated “We are constrained to approach this Hon’ble Commission in view of the highly objectionable, divisive and ex-facie illegal speech delivered by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on April 21, 2024 in in his capacity as the Star Campaigner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections, 2024.”

Congress accused PM Modi and other senior leaders of the BJP party of deliberately and repeatedly invoking religion, religious symbols and religious sentiments in its election campaign without any impunity. In particular to the April 21 speech by PM Modi, the Congress party stated that they had objections to the entire tone and tenor of the Prime Minister’s speech, but especially the anti-minority sentiments spread by PM Modi.

“While we have objections to the entire tone and tenor of the Prime Minister’s speech, in this representation we wish to highlight the completely unprecedented and malicious allegations as well statements which are clearly aimed at creating enmity between groups, far worse than any ever made by a sitting Prime Minister in the history of India. This cannot go unchecked, unanswered and unpunished.”

Highlighting the contents of the speech delivered in Rajasthan, the Congress party alleged that through the same, PM Modi had

“(i) made false and divisive insinuations, targeted at a particular religious community and a clear provocation to the general public to act out and breach peace, potentially against such a religious community;

(ii) tried to mislead the voters by making these false and unverified allegations, which he knows to be untrue;

(iii) accused the party that led India’s struggle for freedom and which is also the principal Opposition Party in Parliament, the Indian National Congress of supporting terrorists and terrorism;

(iv) made a desperate attempt to falsely tarnish the sacrifices and legacy of an almost hundred- and forty-year-old party with an unmatched record of public service and sacrifice, all for the sake of petty political gains in the ensuing Lok Sabha Elections. There is no nuance here and the PM while making these claims, is clearly aware of what he is trying to achieve to malign, defame and perpetuate falsehoods against the Indian National Congress”

With this, the Congress party highlighted the violations committed by the PM and his party, which is left unnoticed would result in ECI “tarnishing its legacy and abandoning its Constitutional duty by setting a precedent of helpless inaction”.

“In the present case, the Prime Minister’s statements to the voters is not only violative of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the Model Code of Conduct, Indian Penal Code, Hon’ble Commission’s instructions, but also forms a part of larger and grossly problematic strategy of maliciously create enmity on grounds of religion and also tarnish the principal opposition party based on rank falsehoods with a view to adversely impact the minds of the voters. Coming from a person holding the high office of the Prime Minister of India, any voter would get influenced. Hence, the gravity of the offence is even more serious/egregious given that it is the Prime Minister of India who is making these false and reckless statements.”

As per the complaint of Congress, PM Modi’s speech was in contravention to Section 123(2), 123 (3A), 123 (4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which labels such speech and malicious attempts as corrupt practices. Furthermore, as provided by the complaint, the impugned speech also attracted offences including Section 153A, 153B, 171C, 171G, 499, 500, 504, 505 (2) punishable under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Congress party also emphasised upon the direct violation of the MCC and the recent advisories of the ECI.

Notably, in the present complaint, Congress has also pointed to the inaction by the ECI to previous complaints filed by them against BJP for election laws violations.

“The Indian National Congress has filed numerous complaints against the Prime Minister and the BJP. However, till date, this Commission has not even issued a show-cause notice to the said individual much less initiate action against them. The Commission must ask itself if the same leeway would be granted to any other candidate if the so arrogantly and repeatedly defied the laws of our country.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation:

In their complaint, the CPI (ML) alleged that while delivering his speech, PM Modi engaged in blatant lies, crudity and communal dog­ whistling against the Muslim community. As stated by the CPI (ML), the same amounts to be violative of the R presentation of People’s Act, 1951 but also of the Model Code of Conduct for the elections.

“The speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Banswara, Rajasthan on 21st April 2024 violates section 123(3A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 that clearly prohibits the promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate. _It is also in blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct and the “Advisory to political parties on plummeting level of public discourse during campaigning” dated 1st March 2024.”

Furthermore, in their complaint, the party has also highlighted the several other complaints that remain pending with the constitutional authority.

Please note that this communal speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows up on his various speeches (speech on April 6 at Ajmer, Rajasthan, April 7 at Nawada, Bihar, speech on April 9 at Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh) where he has repeatedly made reference to the Ram temple at Ayodhya and the Hindu community. We understand that there are several complaints pending with the ECI in regard to these speeches.”

Communist Party of India:

Urging for immediate action against PM Modi, the complaint of the CPI provided that impugned speech showed that the statement made by the Prime Minister are not only inflammatory and illegal and promote ill-feeling among communities.

“When he refers to ‘Mangalsutra’ is clearly referring to Hindu community. The Prime Minister when he refers to Gushpetiye (meaning intruder) and “jinke jayada bacche hai” means he clearly speaking in reference to Muslim community.”

With this, the party highlighted the violation of Section 123 (3) of the Representation of People’s Act and the Model Code of Conduct by the “hate speech” delivered by PM Modi.

The complete notice can be read here:


Rajasthan: Election Watch & PUCL file complaint with Jaipur police demanding that FIR be registered against the Banswara hate speech of PM, Narendra Modi

CPI-M files complaint in Mandir Marg Police station Delhi, asks for FIR against PM Modi, VCK’s Thirumavalavan Thol writes to ECI for the poll code violation

Complaints filed against PM Modi for promoting religious hatred during his Banswara rally, accusing opposition Congress of working to distribute country’s wealth to Muslims



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