With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in the Combined Commander Conference scheduled to be held in Dehradun later today gathering opposition, the Election Commission of India has asked the defense ministry to ensure that “the official visit shall not be combined with any public meeting” and is not used as a platform to make any “announcement” that may “affect” the electoral process.
Modi’s visit has generated a controversy in Uttarakhand with the Congress questioning its timing. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat even slammed Modi saying that “in the pretext of government works the Prime Minister should avoid visiting those states that are going to election. It is not a good tradition.”
Taking note of the Congress complaint over the alleged violation of the model code of conduct, ECI’s Special Principal Secretary RK Srivastava on January 20 sent a letter to the Union defence secretary granting him “no objection to the holding of Commander Conference”, but “subject to strict observance of following conditions by dignitaries attending the above mentioned conference”.
The ECI letter, also copied to Uttarakhand’s Chief Electoral Officer, asked the Defence ministry to ensure that “the official visit shall not be combined with any public meeting”, and “no media briefing, media interaction, press release or announcement in connection with serving soldier or ex-serviceman which may affect the electorate in five poll going states including Uttarakhand shall be made”.
Modi will address all senior military commanders as the chair of the Combined Commanders Conference today. The half-day conference, which is the first for the three military chiefs since taking over as head of their services last year, will be hosted at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.