Cong accuses EC of acting like captive puppet, frontal organisation of BJP

Reactions come after poll panel showcauses Rahul over TV interview
Report by: 
14 Dec 2017

Principal Opposition party Congress today launched a scathing attack on the Election Commission, accusing it of acting like a "captive puppet" of the BJP and not taking action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi who held what it called a roadshow in Gujarat.

The Opposition party's strident attack against the Election Commission and the Prime Minister comes a day after the poll panel issued a show cause notice to Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi for "prima facie" violating the poll code by giving interviews to Gujarati TV channels. The poll panel asked him to reply by December 18, failing which it would decide the matter without his response. In a no-holds-barred attack on Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, the Congress alleged he was behaving like Modi's principal secretary and said the poll body had prostrated itself before the government. Addressing a joint press conference here, Congress general secretary in charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged that a "desperate prime minister facing defeat in Gujarat" held a roadshow with the BJP flags and flouted the Constitution and the poll code of conduct.

"A desperate Prime Minister facing defeat in Gujarat holds a roadshow with BJP flags, flagrantly flouts the Constitution and the code of conduct. A puppet Election Commission looks on with complicity denigrating its role of an independent arbiter," they said. The Election Commission had also denigrated the Constitution, Surjewala told newspersons. "The Election Commission has become a captive puppet of Narendra Modi and the BJP. Unfortunately, the Chief Election Commissioner has abdicated his Constitutional responsibility," he said. Surjewala said the EC can register an FIR against news channels and newspapers based on a complaint filed by the BJP within 30 minutes but not act against the Prime Minister, BJP chief Amit Shah and Union ministers.

"The ministers, the PMO and the chief minister were calling TV channels, threatening them that they would be all sent to jail," he alleged. "It is a sad letter day for India. The Election Commission of India has denigrated the Constitution and abdicated its responsibility," he added. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today asked the Election Commission why it picked on the party's president-elect Rahul Gandhi for giving media interviews while leaving out BJP leaders who did the same thing. In a series of tweets, Chidambaram accused the poll panel of sleeping on the job and also asked people in Gujarat to exercise their franchise and "change" the BJP government in the state. "Yesterday, PM made a speech. BJP's President gave an interview. Railway minister gave an interview. Why have all these escaped the EC's attention? Why pick on only Mr Rahul Gandhi's interview?" Chidambaram said.
The former finance and home minister said the BJP petitioning the Election Commission is an act of "desperation". An interview after the campaign ends is the norm for every candidate and every campaigner in every election, he said.

Party workers today protested outside the Election Commission headquarters here alleging that it is adopting "double standards" and not following the principle of neutrality while dealing with the Congress and the BJP. Members of the Congress' women wing raised slogans against the poll body and carried placards demanding action against the prime minister and other BJP leaders for allegedly violating the model code of conduct in Gujarat. Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev, who led the protest, alleged that "the EC is showing leniency and different standards for the BJP, but is initiating action against the Congress leaders". "This is not fair for the poll body, as it should act in the same manner against the prime minister and the BJP for violating the law. The same standards and the law should apply to all, irrespective of one's party," Dev told news agency PTI.

It deserves mention here that Election officials in Gujarat are going through Congress president-elect Rahul 's television interviews to see if any legal provisions related to the country's poll code were violated by the channels which aired them, an official said today. Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain said all the videos of Gandhi's interviews telecast yesterday had been obtained. "The Election Commission yesterday directed us to take action after screening the videos of the interviews to decide if there was any violation of legal provisions, as prescribed under section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of People Act," Swain told reporters in Gandhinagar.