On April 9, 2019, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi addressed an election rally at Latur in Maharashtra. In his speech, he mentioned Indian Air force’s strikes on a terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. He also referred to Indian Army. This was a violation of the advisories of the Election Commission of India.
Prior to this, PM Modi violated the Model Code of Conduct in Wardha on April 1. Addressing an election rally, he accused the Congress party of hurting the sentiments of the Hindus. He alleged that the Congress coined the term Saffron Terror. He also hit back at Congress President Rahul Gandhi and said that the leaders of the opposition parties were now seeking election from constituencies where majority community of the country was a minority. His indication was towards Rahul Gandhi fighting from Wayanad in Kerala in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. After these incidents, 15 to 25 days have passed so far but the Election Commission has not yet decided if Prime Minister has violated the Model Code of Conduct and its advisories. The institution had on March 9 and 19 issued two advisories asking the politicians not to display pictures of defence personnel or mention their activities to seek votes, doing such would be seen as a violation of the poll code. It is notable that the Election Commission of India announced poll schedules of the general election 2019 and four state assemblies on March 10 and the Model Code of Conduct came in force with immediate effect.
When asked about the violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the PM, NCP Maharashtra President Jayant Patil said, “The Election Commission should take action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The institution is not paying attention to the Model Code of Conduct violated by PM Modi. The official who had conducted checking of the helicopter travelled by Modi is dismissed. People are saying that the Election Commission is working for BJP. EC should have taken strict action against PM Modi. When PM had gone for voting in Ahmedabad, he went in an open jeep to attract voters. The EC should have brought this incident to the notice of the PM.”
Delay in the decision on violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the Prime Minister shows that the Election Commission appears to be helpless, while Modi goes on violating seamlessly. Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Deputy Election Commissioner, said that the Election Commission had received the full transcript of Prime Minister’s April 1 speech in Wardha on April 14. Similarly, the full transcript of his speech in Latur reached the EC’s headquarters on April 16. He said that the Election Commission has decided to study the speeches of leaders before taking any decision. So, they asked election officials of Latur and Wardha to send full transcripts of PM. Local election officials are busy in conducting polls or preparing for the poll. That is the reason behind a little delay, as informed by the department.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA Imtiaz Jaleel said, “I am not at all surprised. PM Modi is controlling all the constitutional institutions. The Election Commission should be vigilant. If the institution views Modi as the PM of India then it will be difficult to take action against him. The EC must take action against everyone irrespective of the post held by them.”
Recently an interview of Prime Minister Modi to ANI with renowned actor Akshay Kumar hit the headlines. Akshay Kumar termed it as candid and completely non-political. However, the Congress party called it a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Congress leader Rashid Alvi asked the Election Commission of India to take strict action in this case. He said that PM Modi intentionally raised many topics and tried to improve his image. Other political parties also criticised PM Modi’s interview. The Prime Minister said, I have many friends in opposition and the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee still gifts me Kurtas every year.
Congress spokesperson Hemlata Patil said, “PM Modi is acting in the manner like Election Commission is under his control. The EC team is working at the behest of PM Modi. Modi’s photo was attached on Air India’s boarding pass, tea cups, and a TV channel is there under his name, a biopic is also being made. He had held a road show in Ahmedabad after casting his vote and it is a violation of MCC. If you view Election Commission’s website then 90 per cent of the complaints related to violation of Model Code of Conduct is against BJP. By controlling the government institutions the Modi government is trying to retain power.”
Last month on March 29, the Aam Aadmi Party in a letter to the Election Commission alleged that the Prime Minister talked about Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan, during an interview to obtain political gains. On the other hand, a BJP leader said, “The party thinks national security should be an issue in the elections and no violation of the Model Code of Conduct is involved in lauding the bravery of our soldiers.” PM Modi had spoken on a wide range of topics with a mainstream news channel.
BJP MP Kapil Patil said, “I am not aware of these things, hence, I will not be able to comment on it.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s televised address to the nation on Mission Shakti also attracted ire of the opposition leaders. However, the Election Commission said that it did not violate the Model Code of Conduct. A complaint was filed in this regard by CPM’s Sitaram Yechury.
Another portal of the Election Commission of India – National Grievance Service Portal – has been showing the status of the complaint about Prime Minister’s speech in Latur as “resolved”. The Commission has sought explanation from concerned officer.