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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: EC notice to BJP, Congress chiefs over complaints against PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi

The poll panel did not directly name the Prime Minister, Rahul or Kharge in its communication but shared copies of the complaints against them which were submitted to it.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 25 April 2024, 09:48 IST
Last Updated : 25 April 2024, 09:48 IST

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New Delhi: In perhaps the first such action in the country’s poll history, the Election Commission on Thursday brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi under its lens for alleged violation of model code of conduct through a notice to BJP president JP Nadda on complaints of “hate speech” in Rajasthan during the Lok Sabha campaign.

Similarly, it also sent a separate notice to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for his response against himself and former party chief Rahul Gandhi on charges of making speeches that creates “linguistic and cultural” divide and levelling allegations against Modi, a move that is perceived as a balancing act.

The poll panel did not directly name the Prime Minister, Rahul or Kharge in connection with the violations in its communication but shared copies of the complaints against them which were submitted to it by various parties.

The EC is "super, super cautious" when it comes to the Prime Minister, Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh said adding, the poll body has issued a notice "virtually identical language" to Kharge.

“Is this what the EC means by a 'level playing field'? It is clear that public pressure, motivated by the PM's outrageous remarks, has forced the EC's hand. But did it have to compensate by sending a notice on Rahul Gandhi's remarks as well?” he said.

The two notices said it has sought to make parties more accountable, transparent and democratic in their functioning and parties will have to take "primary and increasing responsibility" for the conduct of their candidates in general and star campaigners in particular.

Both Nadda and Kharge have been given time till 11 AM on Monday to respond to the notices, while saying that the star campaigners “will continue to remain responsible” for speeches they made though the EC will address party presidents on a case-to-case basis.

It was not immediately clear whether individual notices were issued to Modi, Kharge and Rahul in their names.

The EC has also forwarded the complaints filed by Congress, CPI and CPI(ML)L to Nadda in which they had taken exception to Modi's remarks in Rajasthan's Banswara where the Prime Minister claimed that the Congress wanted to redistribute the wealth of the people to Muslims and that the opposition party won't even spare the 'mangalsutra' of women.

Modi had said that the opposition party would redistribute the wealth of people to “infiltrators”, “those who have more children” and “Muslims” and would even not spare the 'mangalsutra'.

In the almost identical letters, the EC asked the party chiefs to bring to the notice of all star campaigners to "set high standards of political discourse and observe provisions of model code of conduct in letter and spirit".

Citing the Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, it said the star campaigners are expected to contribute to a higher quality of discourse by way of providing an all-India perspective, which “sometimes get distorted” in the heat of contests at the local level.

“Thus the expectation from star campaigners is to provide corrective action or a sort of healing touch, when intensity of local campaign disrupts or inadvertently crosses over such boundaries...their speeches in the campaign necessarily needs to be judged at a higher threshold of compliance,” the letters said.

During 2019 polls, the EC had given a clean chit to Modi on complaints against him filed by opposition parties, leading to the then Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa giving a dissent note.

Recently, Kharge was issued notices to explain remarks made by two Congress leaders against women.

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Published 25 April 2024, 09:48 IST

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