Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not seek the permission of the Election Commission before going on air to announce the success of ‘Mission Shakti’ anti-satellite missile test on Wednesday.
The poll panel on Thursday made it clear that it had not received any request from either the prime minister or anyone else in his office seeking its permission, before announcing the success of Mission Shakti on TV and radio as well as on social media platforms. The Election Commission said it was still examining whether the prime minister’s announcement amounted to violation of the model code of conduct.
The commission is yet to take a call on the biopic on Prime Minister — ‘PM Narendra Modi’ — although the makers of the film submitted responses to the notice the poll panel had issued, asking them why the film’s release would not be construed as a violation of the model code of conduct. Actor Vivek Oberoi, who essays the prime minister’s character, and producer Sandeep Singh visited Election Commission headquarters Nirvachan Sadan on Thursday and submitted a response to the notice.
Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena on Thursday told media persons that the poll panel had written to public broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), asking them to share certain details about the “source” of the telecast and the broadcast of Modi’s speech on Mission Shakti.
Though the poll panel received the responses of Doordarshan and All India Radio on Thursday evening, it might need some more time to examine those.
Saxena is heading the committee the Election Commission constituted on Wednesday after the Opposition parties cried foul over the prime minister’s announcement that was aired on DD and the AIR.
The committee had its first meeting on Wednesday and the second on Thursday.
It might submit its findings and recommendations to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the two Election Commissioners — Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra — on Friday.
Sources said that Doordarshan and AIR had taken the feed from a social media platform instead of directly airing it live — apparently to avoid violation of the model code of conduct, which came into force on March 10, the day the poll panel announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha polls as well as the elections to the legislative assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party highlighted the success of Mission Shakti as a significant achievement of the government led by it.
Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), wrote a letter to the CEC asking if the poll panel had given permission to prime minister to address the nation and to politicise the success of the scientists of the country.
He pointed out that it was a clear violation of the model code of conduct. He was echoed by D Raja of the Communist Party of India. Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, too, said that her party would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Modi.
The poll panel had also issued a notice to Niti Ayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar, who, despite being a public servant, had criticised the Congress’ Minimum Income Guarantee poll pledge. Saxena on Thursday said that the Niti Ayog had sought some more time to respond to the notice.