Another EC relief to PM, now for Pulwama

The EC overruled the opinions of the Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Osmanabad District Electoral Officer (DEO).

Addressing a rally in Ausa in Maharashtra's Latur on April 9, Modi said, "Can your first vote be dedicated to those who carried out the air strike." (PTI Photo)

The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on allegations of violation of the model code of conduct for his April 9 speech in Latur urging first-time voters to dedicate their vote to the martyrs of the Pulwama terror attack.

According to a report published in the Indian Express, the EC overruled the opinions of the Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Osmanabad District Electoral Officer (DEO) despite them finding Modi's speech “inconsistent” with EC's rules because their opinion was based on “just five lines of the speech”.

“The decision was made after taking the whole speech into consideration,” an anonymous official privy to the details of the EC's meeting held on Tuesday added.

On the Prime Minister’s controversial speech at Latur, the commission said that it had examined the complete 11-page transcript of the speech that was sent by the returning officer, Osmanabad parliamentary constituency.

“Commission is of the considered view that in this matter no such violation of the extant advisories/provisions is attracted,” a statement said.

“I want to tell my first-time voters: Can your vote be dedicated to the braves martyred in Pulwama?” Modi had asked the audience at the rally at Ausa in Latur district in Maharashtra.

Modi’s appeal to voters in the name of the armed forces drew criticism not only from political rivals such as the Congress and the CPM but also from veterans.

On Tuesday, the commission had also given another clean chit for Modi’s April 1 speech at Wardha where he had accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of being scared of contesting from the constituencies where the majority of the population were Hindus.

At the same time, the commission barred BJP candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya from campaigning for 72 hours for her remarks on former ATS chief Hemant Karkare and the Babri mosque demolition.

The poll authority also issued a notice to Punjab minister and senior Congress leader Navjyot Singh Sidhu for calling the Prime Minister a “thief”.

In Pragya’s case, the EC “strongly condemned” her remarks against Karkare and warned her “not to repeat the misconduct in future”.

The commission has barred Sadhvi Pragya from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews, public utterances in media.

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