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Exercise restraint: Election Commission ticks off BJP, Congress over divisive agenda

Nadda draws ire for communal barbs, Kharge over ‘threat to Constitution’

Exercise restraint: Election Commission ticks off BJP, Congress over divisive agenda

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with ECs Gyanesh Kumar and SS Sandhu in New Delhi. File



Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22

The Election Commission today came down heavily on both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress over poll speeches by their star campaigners, saying “precious heritage of national election and electoral democracy should not be allowed to be weakened by anyone”.

Editorial: Mind your tongue

Without directly naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi —complaints were filed against both — the EC, in separate directions, conveyed the message to BJP president JP Nadda and his Congress counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge, rejecting their response to the notices served on them on April 25 over the violation of the poll code by their star campaigners.

The EC directed Nadda, as party president, to convey to all BJP star campaigners not to make “speeches and statements that may divide the society”. The poll panel directed the BJP and its star campaigners “to refrain from any campaigning methods or utterances along religious or communal lines”. It said that it expected the BJP, “as the ruling party at the Centre, to fully align with the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”.

“Direct all your star campaigners to refrain from making any statement that is prohibited in Clause (1) of general conduct of the model code of conduct, which provides that ‘no party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing difference or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic’,” the EC’s letter said. It also directed Nadda to convey to all his star campaigners not to make “speeches and statements that may divide the society”.

To Kharge, the poll panel said that it expected the Congress to “fully align with the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”. The EC asked the Congress president to convey to all his star campaigners (mainly Rahul Gandhi) that “they do not make statements which give false impression such as that the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold”.

The EC’s letter to Kharge further stated that it expected the Congress to “fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”. It also said that parties should not involve the activities of the defence forces in the campaign and “not to make potentially divisive statements regarding the socio-economic composition of the defence forces”.

In an interview with The Tribune last week, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa had said that it didn’t make any sense if a decision (on code violation) was taken after 20 days as by then the purpose may be defeated. “If there is a violation, the EC gives a notice to the person concerned, allowing 48 to 72 hours to respond and takes a decision either way,” Lavasa had said.

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