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Gujarat decides
Poll code violated: EC
Modi or Cong? Results by 10 am today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
Even as Gujarat today waited with bated breath with counting of votes in the fiercely contested Assembly elections to be taken up tomorrow, the Election Commission today took exception to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for “violating the model code of conduct”.

It impressed upon them to be more cautious in future so that the “salutary provisions of the model code of conduct are adhered to and duly observed in its letter and spirit.”

The EC made these observations in its communication to Sonia and Modi today and also advised Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh to be more cautious in future so that the salutary provisions of the code were adhered to and duly observed in its letter and spirit.

The commission’s ruling on a complaint by Teesta Setalvad, secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace, was more or less similar in respect of all three leaders. Setalvad had drawn the EC’s attention to violation of the provisions of the poll code based on news reports

The commission said code for guidance of political parties and candidates embodies the consensus among the political parties. The model code lays down broad guidelines as to how the political parties and candidates should conduct themselves during an election campaign. It clearly lays down inter-alia that political party and candidates shall not indulge in slander against each other and any criticism based on unverified allegation or distortion shall be avoided and that parties and candidates shall not indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.

The model code of conduct is intended to maintain and uphold democratic traditions of “issue-based” election campaign. It is therefore expected from all stakeholders to adhere to the provisions of the code so that free, fair and peaceful elections are conducted by the commission as is expected of it, to ensure the vibrant working of the democracy in India.

The commission told Modi that the justification provided for the referred utterances as reaction/counterblast to certain propaganda as alleged by him, to have been carried out against him can hardly be accepted. It drew his pointed attention to the observations of the Supreme Court in the T.K. Gangi Reddy vs M.C. Anjaneya Reddy and others case.

With regard to Sonia, the commission said the sagacious advice and high expectations of the Supreme Court do not seem to have been given due respect in the instant case. “Some of the impugned utterances in your speech under reference amount to an attack on the personal character or conduct of the political/administrative functionaries running the present government of Gujarat.” Her attention was also drawn to the observations made by the Supreme Court in the T.K. Gangi Reddy vs M.C. Anjaneya Reddy and others case.

The commission quoted the relevant observations as: “The words personal character or conduct are so clear that they do not require further elucidation or definition. The character of a person may ordinarily be equated with his mental or moral nature. Conduct connotes a persons actions or behaviour....what is more damaging to a person’s character and conduct than to state he instigated a murder and that he was guilty of violent acts in his political career.”

On its part, the BJP expressed surprise over the EC “differentiating” verdict against Sonia on her “merchant of death” remark. “It is really surprising that while giving the ruling, the EC has cautioned both Modi and Digvijay Singh but just expressed displeasure in the case of Sonia Gandhi,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told mediapersons here.

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