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Sonia, Modi face mild rap

New Delhi, Dec. 20: Judging by its past record, the Election Commission is unlikely to go beyond its usual “reprimand, censure and express displeasure” routine in dealing with the Guajarat poll outbursts of Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi.

Legally, the commission can take harsher measures against those violating the model code of conduct, which comes into force the moment elections are announced.

But the panel has always been judicious in the way it has used such powers, granted to it under Article 324 of the Constitution, to crack the whip on those violating the code.

Once a complaint is referred to the panel or is too publicised to be ignored, notices are sent out to get the response of those accused of violations. After the replies come in, a decision is taken depending on the gravity of the offence.

The panel let off Union minister Arjun Singh with a reprimand for announcing the OBC reservations while the code of conduct was in force for the elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Pondicherry last year.

But “stubborn or wilful refusal” to abide by the code may draw tougher action. The ADMK was served a showcause notice in May 2004, asking why its election symbol should not be withdrawn after its MLA defaced public property.

The legislator, T. Anbalagan, was found guilty of violating the rule that prevents candidates or their supporters from erecting cutouts, banners and flag-posts or from defacing public property.

The panel had issued a showcause notice under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, asking the ADMK to explain why its recognition as a state party should not be suspended or withdrawn in Pondicherry.

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