In the run-up to Gujarat elections, a war of words broke out between BJP and Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s interview to a local Gujarati channel. Arguing that the interview was a part of Congress’ election campaign, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal attacked Congress President-elect for allegedly violating the Representation of the People Act, 1951. “It was not permitted to give an interview in the last 48 hours of campaigning in Gujarat. I am sure the Election Commission will take cognizance of this and take an action,” he was quoted as saying by the ANI. The second phase of Gujarat polls will take place on December 14.
Congress in retaliation accused BJP of using “EC as a tool for its political gains.” Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused BJP of allegedly threatening journalists. “When Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi gave interviews to a few Gujarati news channels, BJP, in the name of Election Commission, threatened to jail the journalists of those channels for broadcasting it. We condemn this arrogant behavior of BJP,” he said.
The Election Commission has ordered registration of FIR against violators. “After due deliberations, have directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat to initiate necessary action by filing FIR against violators,” said Election Commission. According to Representation of the People Act, 1951, section 126, public meetings are barred during the period of forty-eight hours before the elections.
Gandhi in an interview to Gujarat Samachar TV said, “This election is not about Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. This is about the voice of Gujarat. They are not talking about real issues. There is no talk about Gujarat’s vikas. Instead, they insulted Manmohan Singh.”
He also continued his attack against PM Modi over GST, demonetisation and also accused the party of evading important questions related to the development of Gujarat. On his temple visits, he said, “Am I not allowed to visit temples? People from the BJP keep talking about this issue unnecessarily because they are scared and they don’t want to talk about real issues. PM Modi’s not afraid of Rahul Gandhi, he’s afraid of the people of Gujarat.” He also accused BJP of distorting his image. “There is no makeover in me. I am just speaking the truth and now people are able to see the reality.”