Congress candidate Ajai Rai on Monday landed in a controversy after he went to vote wearing his election symbol on his kurta.
An FIR was today filed against Congress nominee Ajai Rai on the directive of the Election Commission for allegedly violating the election code of conduct by wearing the party poll symbol on his kurta while going to cast vote.
Senior police officials said the FIR against Rai has been lodged at the Sigra Police Station and section 126 and 130 of Representation of Peoples Act and section 171 (H) of IPC relating to poll code of conduct have been slapped against him.
The FIR was lodged against Rai shortly after Election Commission directed the district administration to do so after it analysed a report sent by Special Election Observer Praveen Kumar.
Early this morning, Rai came along with his family members to cast his vote, while wearing a badge of Congress election symbol ‘hand’ on his kurta.
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EC orders FIR
The Election Commission had directed the Varanasi Returning Officer to file an FIR or complaint against Congress candidate Ajai Rai for displaying his party symbol and talking to media at a polling booth amounting to “canvassing” which is barred on the voting day.
Official sources in the EC said that the FIR or complaint would be filed under Section 126 and 130 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 against Rai.
Special Election Observer Praveen Kumar said in Varanasi he has sent a detailed report to the Chief Election Commissioner on the issue.
Varanasi Returning Officer Pranjal Yadav said he has seen the video of Rai going inside the polling booth in Ramakant Nagar of Chetganj area wearing Congress’ election symbol.
“We have seen the video. We have informed the Special Election Observer and the higher authorities. Action would be taken immediately,” Yadav said.
Kumar said that flashing of election symbol at the booth is violation of Section 130 of the Representation of People Act.
A report has also been sought from the local administration into the matter.
Rai defends action
He, however, defended his action saying that he has the right to wear the symbol as a candidate.
Rai also claimed that the case against Narendra Modi cannot be compared with his action as the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate had shown his lotus symbol after casting vote in Gandhi Nagar.
On April 30, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate had courted trouble after he flashed his party’s symbol lotus while taking a “selfie”, and made a speech after casting his vote in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
Modi is also fighting Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi.
Another candidate Arvind Kejriwal of AAP also raised objections about Rai wearing ‘hand’ badge on the polling booth and said this was not fair.
BJP leaders also raised objections and sought action against Rai by the Election Commission.
BJP said Rai’s act violated the Model Code of Conduct.
“In case of Narendra Modi, he was speaking to the media with a lotus symbol beyond a prohibited zone of 300-feet which is permissible. In case of Congress candidate in Kashi, he is inside the booth with a Congress symbol.
“Would the Election Commission take cognisance of it and take appropriate action or as in the case of Rahul Gandhi, who violated the model code of conduct by fiddling with a voting machine in Amethi, be let off on a fictitious basis? These are important issues,” BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said in Delhi.
He said the EC should ensure that its approach does not give any indication of discrimination. Another BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar called Rai’s act as a “petty little issue”.
“I don’t want to give reaction on petty little issues. Let’s see what the Election Commission does on the issue? Will Election Commission deal equally with all candidates or it goes soft on some people,” Javadekar said.
Rai, who is at the centre of the allegations, said he was wearing the Congress party symbol in a “routine” manner.
“I am a Congress candidate…that (the symbol) is on my I-card too…definitely I was not informed. I use it usually during campaigning. This is normal and routine. It is placed on my heart,” Rai said.