The Election Commission (EC) Friday cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in four complaints of alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), of which at least one decision was not unanimous.
The disagreement in the poll panel was on Shah’s speech in Nagpur on April 9 when he likened Wayanad, the second seat from where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is contesting, to Pakistan. The Commission’s decision favouring Shah, was taken by a 2-1 majority, The Indian Express has learnt.
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Addressing the rally in Nagpur, from where Union Minister Nitin Gadkari is seeking re-election, Shah had said: “Aur yeh Rahul baba apne gathbandhan ke liye, Keral ke andar aisi seat par jaakar khade juloos nikalta hai toh Bharat hai ya Pakistan ka juloos hai. Maloom hi nahin padta, aisi jagah jaake khade hain.”
“(And this Rahul baba, for the sake of his alliance, has gone to such a seat in Kerala where when a procession is taken out, you cannot make out whether it is India or a Pakistan procession. You cannot make out, to such a seat he has gone).”
Shah said this in an apparent reference to a large number of Indian Union Muslim League flags (green in colour) seen during the procession when Gandhi filed his nomination papers from Wayanad on April 4.
“The matter has been examined in detail in accordance with the extant advisories, provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and after examination of complete transcript of speech of six pages sent by DEO (District Electoral Officer) Nagpur, Commission is of the view that in this matter no such violation of MCC or ECI’s instructions is made out,” states the EC’s reply to Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on the party’s complaint regarding Shah’s Nagpur speech.
With the EC’s clean chit in this case, there are now at least three decisions pertaining to complaints of alleged MCC violations by Modi and Shah that had one Election Commissioner registering his dissent.
The Indian Express reported Friday that the decisions to let Modi off the hook for his “minority-majority” speech at Wardha on April 1 and his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot air strikes in Latur on April 9 were also not unanimous.
The other case in which Shah was cleared Friday was his speech in West Bengal on April 22. The BJP president, while addressing a rally, had said that Modi had sent his Air Force to destroy terror camps in Pakistan after the Pulwama attack in February this year. With this, both Congress complaints against Shah have been disposed of.
The Commission also cleared Modi for his speech in Varanasi on April 25 and another in Nanded, Maharashtra on April 6. In Nanded, Modi had referred to the Wayanad seat as one where the “country’s majority is in minority”. In Varanasi, he had said that 40 terrorists had been killed in Pulwama in response to the 42 soldiers who were martyred in the terror attack .
In a separate decision Friday, the EC gave Gandhi an extension until May 7 to reply to EC’s notice for his claim at a rally in Madhya Pradesh that a new law framed by the Union government permits the killing of tribals.
Notices were also issued to Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and Goa’s Panchayati Raj Minister Marvin Godinho for alleged MCC violations. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao was censured for his remarks during his poll campaign in Karimnagar on March 17 and cautioned to be more careful in future.