EC sends notice to Cong over poll code violation by Rahul Gandhi, seeks reply by April 29

New Delhi: The Election Commission has taken note of alleged violations of the model code of conduct by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and on Thursday sought a response from the party.

In a notice to the Congress chief, Mallikarjun Kharge, the Commission has asked him to file a reply by April 29.

The BJP in its complaint to the EC had said that Rahul Gandhi in Kottayam (Kerala) in his April 18 speech said, “If a daughter graduates from a university, her parents congratulate her in Malayalam. When a brother loses the other brother, he communicates in Malayalam. Thus, Kerala is Malayalam, and Malayalam is Kerala. I get surprised when I hear PM giving speeches where he says one nation, one language, and one religion. How can you tell people of Tamil to not speak Tamil, and people of Kerala not to speak Malayalam? Every single Indian language is as important as any other language. BJP does this with language, place, caste and religion. Whenever they get an opportunity, they divide the country.”

BJP had told EC, “We request you to recapitulate earlier show cause notice issued to Rahul Gandhi, regarding his derisive and obnoxious utterances, against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi, as a habitual serial offender, had once again levelled grossly mala fide, patently false and utterly sinister allegations against the Prime Minister at Coimbatore.”

Rahul Gandhi had also said, “They took away my Lok Sabha membership within a week. I was thrown out of the Lok Sabha.”

The Election Commission in its letter to Kharge, said the Star Campaigners were expected to utilize the privilege for “propagating the programme of the political parties and, therefore their speeches in the campaign space necessarily need to be judged at a higher threshold of compliance.

“Whereas, in light of the above, the Commission considers the political party as the fundamental stakeholder, in terms of regulation, consultation and facilitation within and about the election process and whereas over the years through various instructions/orders and advisories, the Commission has sought to make political parties more accountable, transparent and democratic in their functioning, and whereas the Commission is of the considered view that political parties will have to take primary and increasing responsibility for the conduct of their candidates in general and star campaigners in particular,” the Commission said.

The EC said that the national party was therefore expected to be the standard bearer in political and campaign discourse and as such should also set high standards of compliance with the model code of conduct.

“Whereas, the Commission is in receipt of representation from a political party alleging violation of the Model Code of Conduct by speeches made during campaigning by some of your star campaigners. Whereas, these speeches are selected to be in violation of MCC,” the EC said.

“In view of the foregoing and the plenary power of the political parties to nominate or withdraw the star campaigner’s status with associated responsibility and authority to control their star campaigners, the Commission has taken a view that while the individual star campaigner would continue to remain responsible for speeches made, the Commission will address party President/Head of the political party, on a case-to-case basis,” the EC said in the notice.

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