The handbill war is far from over in Vadodara. After Congress candidate Madhusudan Mistry was booked for questioning BJP candidate Narendra Modi’s “governance and character” in his handbill, it is now the turn of the Congress party to file a complaint against the “personal letters” written by Modi to voters in the constituency, enlisting details of their respective poll booths.
On Thursday, Mistry, through his election agent, filed a complaint with the District Election Officer (DEO), contending that Modi’s letters were “voting slips” which were in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). In the complaint, the Congress objected to the distribution of “Modi’s personal letters” to voters by the BJP.
The letters, distributed as part of the BJP’s door-to-door campaign, are addressed to each voter in the constituency. The personalised letters address each voter with a salutation of “behenshree” or “bhaishree” prefixing their name. The Congress contends that such a letter amounts to being a “voters’ slip” and bears the picture of Modi, which is in violation of the MCC.
The complaint states, “The BJP candidate Narendra Modi has printed his photo, an appeal to voters to vote for the BJP and details of the voter’s identity as well as the address of his polling booth. It also mentions the voting date and time. These voting slips may be carried into the 100 meters area inside polling booth by voters, continuing the campaign for Modi even till the last minute. This is a clear violation of the MCC as per the rules explained by you during the meeting with political parties, in which printing of voter slips for campaign was demarked as prohibited.” The Congress has demanded appropriate action against Modi for the violation of MCC.”
Modi’s letters, issued to voters in Vadodara, are drafted keeping in mind the target audience. While the letters to women speak of girls education, rising gas prices and women empowerment, the letters addressed to men talk about “satellite cities and bullet trains”. Shailesh Amin, Mistry’s election agent, says, “How can one party send out personally addressed letters to each voter in the constituency and also lay down voting details and get away with it? We have demanded strong action against the BJP from the DEO. But, so far, we have not received any positive response. We will take this matter further.” DEO Dr Vinod Rao was unavailable for comment.