Congress MP Sushmita Dev raises abdication finger at Election Commission
A major party moving the highest court of the land against the Election Commission for “abdication” of duty in the middle of the electoral process is unheard of but the Congress feels that circumstances had compelled it to take the extraordinary step.
“We are not happy to drag the EC to court but what else could we have done?” Mahila Congress chief and Lok Sabha MP Sushmita Dev told The Telegraph.
Dev has moved the petition through top lawyer and party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, who himself had on Saturday expressed exasperation over the commission’s inaction.
“We waited so long; half the electoral process is over now. If the speed of justice matters most in any case, it is in elections,” Dev said.
“If the EC tells us the conduct of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah do not violate the model (election) code of conduct and the orders passed by the commission, we are fine with it,” she added.
“Let them reject our complaints and uphold the conduct of these leaders. But they cannot sit on the complaints and allow them to campaign while other leaders are being punished. Let the EC tell us Modi and Shah are above the law and the principle of equality does not apply to them.”
Asked if the Congress was accusing the commission of bias, she said: “I don’t know (if) it is bias or fear but what is happening is doubtless improper and illegal. We filed 41 complaints so far and action had been taken in each case except the eight related to Modi and Shah. What is the message? … What is the purpose of acting after the election (is over)? The EC can act against Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath, Navjot Singh Sidhu, but not against Modi-Shah? Are we expected to accept that oddity silently? If yes, the EC should publicly say we can’t speak truth to power.”
The petition filed in the Supreme Court points out how Modi and Shah indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda and held a rally on the day of polling in Gujarat and argues that “such brazen violations are neither minor nor procedural, in any manner”.
“It is (a) matter of record that other candidates who have been in breach of the electoral laws including the model code have had strictures and directions passed against them,” it says.
The petition has targeted the commission (ECI) in unambiguous terms. “The lack of decision despite cogent evidences, representations and exhortations to the Respondent/ECI demonstrates abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level-playing field in (the) ensuing general elections for the Lok Sabha,” it says.
“The inactions, omissions and commissions by the EC are in complete and direct violation of Articles 14 (equality) and 21 (life and liberty) of the Constitution and which are impeding free, fair and unbiased general elections, 2019.”
Dev asserted that indecision meant “tacit endorsement” and hoped the top court would intervene to enforce the spirit of equality before law that the Constitution guarantees.
Singhvi too had spoken out at a media conference on Saturday. “Never before in the history of independent India has there been a more audacious set of individuals who, for the sake of petty electoral advantage, are willing to undermine our laws and our institutions,” he had said.
“No other individual has shown such a flagrant disregard for the doctrine of level-playing field like Modi and Shah (have). But the commission has adopted a hands-off approach. The EC inaction is in effect a tacit endorsement of the violations by Modi and Shah.