No Meeting Held By Full EC Since April 5 On Complaint Against PM On Alleged Violations Of MCC: Report
The Election Commission enforced the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) on March 10, the very day on which the watch dog announced the election dates for the 7 phases throughout the country. The MCC was brought in to bring discipline among the political parties and to bar political parties from using unscrupulous means to win elections. However, in the last four phases of elections, there have been multiple reports of ruling party leaders violating MCCs and EC’s unwillingness to take action on the complaints of violations has put a question mark on EC’s independence?
The Indian Express reported that the EC after April 5 had not had a single meeting on the alleged violation of MCC by PM Modi. On April 5, the watchdog received a complaint against the PM for his speech in a rally in Wardha, Maharashtra on April 1, where he had mocked Rahul Gandhi for contesting from Wayanad. He said that the Congress party is ‘running away from majority-dominated areas” to take shelter in areas where the majority is in the minority.
Generally, the full commission of EC is supposed to convene a meeting twice a week on essential matters which includes MCC. This commission comprises of Sunil Arora, the Chief Election Commissioner, along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. What is more worrying is the fact that there were four more complaints against the PM by Congress and CPM for violating the MCC, but still no meeting took place.
What were the other complaints?
On April 6, the PM in Maharashtra while campaigning for his party again referred to the Wayanad’s seat as “country’s majority is in the minority”. Three days later, his diligent way for seeking votes from the first time voters by asking them to vote for the martyred soldiers in Pulwama attack and the army men who carried the Balakot air strikes. On this comment, the Osmanabad District Electoral officer submitting its report to Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer mentioned the remark was “inconsistent” with EC’s instructions prohibiting the use of armed forces for political gains. Few days after that on April 21, PM Modi in Gujarat to amp up nationalism among the crowd said that if Pakistan had not returned Wing Commander Abhinandan, then India had 12 missiles ready. He said Pakistan had to face “qatal ki raat”. On that very day, in Rajasthan, trivialising the nuclear weapon, he said, “Pakistan used to give nuclear threats. What do we have? Have we kept it for ‘Diwali’?”, thus openly threatening a neighbouring country.
If the EC had taken up all these complaints seriously, then by this time they should have met six times. Sheyphali B Sharan, EC spokesperson told The Indian Express that all the pending complaints against PM, BJP President, and Congress President will be discussed in the Commission’s next meeting – April 30, 2019. She further mentioned that another meeting will be scheduled if it is required to solve these cases. On April 29, Chandra Bhushan Kumar, the Deputy Election Commissioner further reaffirmed Sharan’s claim and said that BJP had lodged a complaint against Rahul Gandhi for using the phrase “Chowkidar Chor Hai”
Congress Move SC against EC’s ineffectiveness
Sushmita Dev, Congress MP moved Supreme Court to seek the apex court’s intervention and direct EC to act on complaints against violation of MCC by the PM and Amit Shah on April 29. The bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi agreed to the list of all the violations.
Dev further said, “ It is in the public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the Respondent/ECI”. She further mentioned that EC has punished other party candidates and not the members of the ruling party. She further pointed out that Modi addressed a rally in Gujarat on April 23, on the date for the third phase of the election.