FIR lodged against Modi for model code violation

EC takes action after he displays BJP symbol, holds press meet

FIR lodged against Modi for model code violation

A selfie showing the lotus symbol by BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, soon after he cast his vote at a polling station in Gandhinagar, on Wednesday invited the ire of the Election Commission. 

Later, one FIR and one complaint were filed against him for violation of model code of conduct.

Modi went to cast his vote at a polling station in Ranip in Gandhinagar early on Wednesday. A huge crowd near the polling station greeted him and, after casting his vote, he came out of the booth and took a ‘selfie’ using his mobile phone showing his finger bearing the ink-mark while holding aloft a paper cut-out of a lotus. The photo was later uploaded on the micro-blogging website Twitter. Later, Modi addressed the media and also answered questions.

Soon after, the Election Commission (EC) directed the Gujarat Police to register two FIRs against Modi. The cause for action against Modi related to his delivering a “political speech” and displaying his party’s symbol after casting his vote.

The poll panel observed that Modi’s address to media persons, after casting his vote at the Ranip polling station, was “in the nature of a political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections.” 

The EC noted that Modi “violated the provisions of the Sections 126 (1) (a) and 126 (l) (b) of Representation of People’s (RP) Act 1951” by holding and addressing the press-meet and displaying the symbol of the BJP “when the polling was on in the entire State of Gujarat and in different parts of the country”. 

Section 126 (1) (a) of the R P Act 1951 prohibits the convening, holding, attending, joining or addressing any public meeting or procession in connection with an election during the period of 48 hours ending with the time fixed for conclusion of poll. Section 126 (1) (b) of the same Act prohibits the display to the public of any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus.

The City Crime Branch on Wednesday lodged an FIR against him for the violation of election laws following the directive from the Election Commission. PTI reported Gujarat DGP P C Thakur as stating that: “Two FIRs have been registered by the City Crime Branch in connection with the events.” 

The poll panel has also sought similar action against the TV channels which telecasted the press meet and aired footage of the BJP leader’s selfie in which he is seen displaying a replica of the ‘lotus’ – the election symbol of his party. 
According to Section 126 (2) of the R P Act 1951, any person who contravenes the provision of Section 126 (1) of the same Act, “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

The BJP, meanwhile, sought to blame the media for the fiasco. Reacting to the poll panel’s decision, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who cast his vote from Ahmedabad claimed: “The EC has asked for an FIR against the media for asking questions; if that is the situation then legality is a serious issue.”

Meanwhile, the Congress stepped up pressure on the Election Commission to ensure that the Gujarat government acts against Narendra Modi.

"The Election Commission should ensure that its orders are followed. It (Modi's actions) are a grave violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Time and again Modi had blown the Model Code of Conduct into smithereens," AICC general gecretary Ajay Maken said.

In Wednesday’s polls, Gujarat registered an increase in the voter turnout from 48 per cent in 2009 to 62 per cent. Vadodara, from where Modi is contesting, saw 70 per cent turnout.  Other prominent candidates who voted on Wednesday included BJP veteran L K Advani and Congress leaders Shankersinh Vaghela, Madhusudan Mistry and Union ministers Dinsha Patel and Bharatsinh Solanki. 

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