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Congress moves Election Commission on Modi’s Balakot vote plea

The Congress says PM’s speech had violated the model code and the commission’s recent guidelines asking parties to keep the activities of the defence forces out of their campaigns
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala and party senior leaders leave after a meeting with Election Commission officials at Nirvachan Sadan, in New Delhi, Friday, April 12, 2019.

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 13.04.19, 01:59 AM

The Congress on Friday petitioned the Election Commission against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s references to the military for political purposes, such as his appeal to first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the personnel involved in the Balakot air strike.

The Congress said Modi’s speech had violated the model code of conduct and the commission’s recent guidelines asking parties to keep the activities of the defence forces out of their campaigns. It asked the poll panel “to enforce what it commands”.

The Congress petition came shortly after news broke that at least eight former service chiefs and other veterans had appealed to the President to direct all parties to “desist from using the military” and “any actions by military formations or personnel” for political purposes.

“I want to tell first-time voters, can you dedicate your first vote to the brave soldiers who carried out the air strike on Balakot in Pakistan?” Modi had told a rally in Latur, Maharashtra, on Tuesday.

“Can you dedicate your vote to the brave martyrs of Pulwama (where a suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF men)?”

News agency PTI had quoted officials as saying on Tuesday that the Election Commission had taken cognisance of Modi’s remarks and sought a report from poll officials in Maharashtra.

“Evidently the Prime Minister’s violations have grown ever more brazen with a clear double standard of treatment emerging. Furthermore, ECI must be able to enforce what it commands,” the Congress petition said.

“Mere censures or rebukes have clearly proven to be ineffectual. Unless the ECI takes a strong stand, it is reasonable to expect that such violations will continue without consequence.”

In another complaint, the Congress said: “A particular web series titled Modi: Journey of a Common Man is now streaming online on a digital channel called Eros Now, with the sole motive of influencing and impressing viewers and voters in the upcoming polls.”

It added: “This is part of the ill-advised, boorish and clumsy trifecta (triad) which includes a biopic (since postponed), NaMo TV and now the web series. On a bare perusal, this too is a hagiographic work that seeks to lionise the image of the Prime Minister, whitewash his record and project an image of him as a statesman.”

A third Congress petition alleged the violation of electoral laws by the Prime Minister, BJP president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath at rallies in Nanded, Nagpur and Meerut on April 9.

“At all these, the individuals concerned employed the use of hateful, communal and divisive language against Congress president Rahul Gandhi,” the complaint said.

It cited Modi’s claim that Rahul had chosen to contest from Wayanad because it was a minority-dominated seat, and Shah’s remark that it was difficult to judge by the nature of Rahul’s rally in Wayanad whether the constituency was in India or Pakistan.

Shah had been quoted as saying that “Alia, Malia, Jamalia could enter India and attack anyone” during UPA rule.

He had further said: “Rahul baba, you may say ‘Ilu, Ilu’ (I love you) to terrorists if you want but the BJP government will respond to a bullet with a grenade.”

The Congress petition said: “Yogi said: ‘I want to tell you, if Congress, SP and BSP have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrangbali…. This green virus should not be injected into western Uttar Pradesh. We have removed this virus from eastern Uttar Pradesh’.”


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