EC notice to Rahul for poll code violation; Cong demands action against Modi

EC notice to Rahul for poll code violation; Cong demands action against Modi
The Election Commission has issued a notice to Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi asking him to explain why action should not be taken against him for giving interviews to television channels. This prompted the Congress to accuse the poll panel of adopting "double standards" as it had not taken similar action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders.

The Congress was also upset that the EC had directed the Gujarat chief electoral officer to take action against channels, which telecast Rahul's interview in poll-bound districts. The EC wanted the CEO to file an FIR against the channel for violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which mandates 48-hour silence before voting.

Voters in 93 Assembly seats will exercise their franchise in the second phase of polling on Thursday. The first phase of polling was held on December 9. The results will be announced on December 18.

Congress leaders led by Ahmed Patel and Ashok Gehlot made a dash to the poll authority to register their protest against the EC turning a blind eye to media interview by BJP leaders including party chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

The party also termed the prime minister's address to Ficci annual general meeting on Wednesday a violation of the model code of conduct as it was critical of the Congress-led UPA government.

The prime minister had termed the bank loans as a "scam" that was bigger than the Commonwealth Games, 2G telecom spectrum allocation and coal block allocation scams.

Earlier, the BJP took objection to Rahul granting interviews to Gujarat-based television channels contending that it violated the Model Code of Conduct. Union Minister Piyush Goyal said the Election Commission should act following these interviews.

Acting on a complaint filed by the BJP, the poll panel held that the interview telecast by the channels "violated" the Model Code of Conduct on the day before the last phase of the elections on Thursday.

In a three-page notice to Gandhi sent by its permanent secretary Varinder Kumar, the poll panel said the Congress leader had "prima facie" violated the provisions of the code, section 126(1) (b) of the Act and the EC's "lawful instructions" in this regard.

The panel asked Gandhi to send his reply by 5 pm December 18, failing which it would decide the matter without any further notice to him.

Congress leaders made a late night dash to the Election Commission demanding "fair and equal treatment" in the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct.

In a memorandum to the EC, the Congress listed interviews given by BJP president Amit Shah, the two press conferences conducted by Goyal, the BJP releasing the election manifesto after the end of the campaign for the first phase of elections as violation of the poll code.

"The Election Commission is duty-bound to be fair and impartial. We have to regrettably state that the aforesaid apparent discrimination and apparent advantage being given to the ruling party militates against this notion," it said.

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