Action against PM: still waiting, EC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during an election campaign rally in Patan, Gujarat. PTI

The Election Commission is taking an inordinately long time to decide on complaints filed by opposition parties as well as concerned citizens against violations of the model code of conduct by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These complaints are of a serious nature, and some of the prime minister’s statements would not even at first glance pass the test of right conduct and speech by leaders during election campaigns. Before the campaigning started, the commission had advised all campaigners and candidates to desist from propaganda involving the armed forces. The code has always forbidden invocation of religion, caste or other divisive factors as part of the campaign. But Modi has been found violating these norms repeatedly, and he has increasingly raised his pitch on these issues as the campaign has progressed. 

At a rally in Wardha in Maharashtra on April 1, Modi said that the Congress had hurt the sentiments of Hindus by coining the term ‘Hindu terror’. He also said that Rahul Gandhi had run away from ‘Hindu samaj’ and chosen to contest from a constituency where the majority community was a minority. He mentioned the IAF strike on Balakot at another meeting in Maharashtra on April 9 and told the voters to dedicate their votes to the defence personnel. This was in effect a call for votes in the name of the armed forces. He has referred to the surgical strikes against Pakistan many times from different platforms. A large number of retired defence services personnel have objected to the use of the name of the armed forces in the election campaign. But the commission has not taken any decision on the complaints and even after many weeks it is still examining them. 

The commission has put forward vey unconvincing reasons for its inaction. A deputy election commissioner has said that the transcripts of the prime minister’s speeches were received by the commission only two weeks after he made them. This is a lame excuse and in any case the commission has had enough time to take a decision after the receipt of the transcripts. The Election Commission’s portal on code violations does not show any complaint against the prime minister. All this has gone to confirm that while the prime minister seems to consider himself above the code of conduct, the Election Commission, too, is treating him as such. It has taken action against some others soon after it received complaints about them. Its reluctance or refusal to take action on complaints against Modi should be seen along with some of its acts of omission and commission in the past which seemed to favour the prime minister and the ruling party. The guardian of elections is clearly failing in its duty. 

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