Poll Body Schools BJP, Congress

'Big 2 Parties Not Allowed To Weaken...': Poll Body's Unprecedented Warning

New Delhi:

Five phases of the Lok Sabha election over, the Election Commission today came down heavily on the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress over poll speeches by its star campaigners. This comes after both the parties had filed complaints against each other, flagging speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi.  

In separate directions issued to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the poll body said the country’s socio-cultural milieu cannot become a casualty to elections. 

“Elections are a process when political parties not only contest to win, but also avails the opportunity to present themselves in their ideal best for the voting community to experience, emulate and build hopes on. The second part constitutes the more precious heritage of Indian elections and our electoral democracy and this should not be allowed to be weakened by anyone, including your party,” the commission said.

“Elections are periodic exercises, they come and go, but political parties like yours endure; even more enduring preserve is India’s socio-cultural milieu; Political parties are in the task of nurturing leaders for the country for present and future. They cannot afford to be lax in any manner in enforcing discipline and conduct among the cadre in the high stake electoral space; especially with reference to senior members,” the poll body told both parties. 

Earlier, both parties had approached the Election Commission and complained against each other’s leaders. The poll body had issued notices and sought their responses on the allegations. In today’s directions, it has rejected their defences.

In its letter to Mr Nadda, the poll body has said it expects BJP, “as the ruling party at the Centre to fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”.

The commission has directed the BJP to instruct all star campaigners to refrain from making any statement prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct. The rules, it stressed, provide 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 poll body directed the BJP chief to direct all star campaigners “to not make speeches and statements, which may divide the society”. It also directed the star campaigners to “refrain from any campaigning methods/utterances along religious communal lines”. The poll body also called for decorum in speeches by the party’s star campaigners.

The Election Commission’s letter to Mr Kharge said that it expects the Congress to “fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”.

The poll body asked the Congress chief to direct its star campaigners to avoid making statements prohibited under the General Conduct rules of the model code of conduct.

Mr Kharge was also directed to ask Congress star campaigners to “desist as part of the election campaigning from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of the Defence forces and not to make potentially divisive statements regarding socio-economic composition of Defence forces”. He was also told to instruct star campaigners “that they do not make statements which give false impression such as that the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold”.

Earlier, the Congress had approached the poll body over Prime Minister Modi’s allegations that the Opposition party wanted to redistribute people’s wealth among Muslims and that the opposition party won’t even spare married women’s ‘mangalsutra’.

The BJP, on the other hand, had flagged to the Election Commission a speech by Rahul Gandhi in which he alleged that the Prime Minister was pushing for one nation, one language, one religion.

The poll body had subsequently issued notices to Mr Nadda and Mr Kharge. Significantly, the notices did not name Prime Minister Modi or Mr Gandhi and party bosses were held responsible for speeches by star campaigners. Today’s directions, too, do not mention any leader’s name.

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