In the wake of the Election Commission clearing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in several complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday called the poll panel “completely biased” against the Opposition. He also accused the PM and BJP of putting institutions under pressure, and said anybody who succumbs to the pressure is “committing a crime”.
Slamming Rahul, the BJP accused the Congress of “attacking every institution that does not suit its political needs”. “It is a tactic of the Congress party to repeatedly attack institutions, using its support systems in an attempt to browbeat them. They have not spared the judiciary, Election Commission, and even the Army to further their political ends. Such tactics won’t work anymore as the Congress’s old tactics have now got exposed,” Rajya Sabha MP and BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Rahul said that when it comes to petitions against the BJP, “the Election Commission is absolutely on the straight line. And when it comes to matters of the Opposition, the Election Commission is completely biased. So, it is pretty clear.”
The Congress president said this fit in with how the Modi government treated institutions. “The working style of Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS is to put institutions under pressure. It is visible everywhere. Be it the Supreme Court, EC, Planning Commission, RBI. It is visible everywhere. That is their approach. So we don’t expect that the EC will not be impacted by that pressure. We know that, but we also know that whatever the EC does, the people of India have made up their mind. And when the people of India make up their mind, nobody can do anything.”
He added, “But frankly the Election Commission has a responsibility. And they have to commit to that responsibility and they have to carry it out, because all this institutional capture that is taking place and the negative effects of it, these will have consequences in the future. We are not going to allow Indian institutions to be disturbed, controlled, crushed. And anybody who colludes, anybody who falls to this pressure, is committing a crime.”
Rahul also claimed that after four phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections it was clear that Modi and the BJP were losing, and said this was why the PM was trying to divert attention from critical issues by raking up issues like his nationality. “The truth is that Modi is losing the elections. And it is written on his face.”
Rahul attacked Modi for mocking the Congress’s assertion that the UPA government too had conducted surgical strikes during its tenure, saying he had insulted the Army by questioning its abilities. “The Army is not a personal property of Modi. Those surgical strikes were not carried out by the Congress party. Those were conducted by the Army. When Narendra Modi says that the Ind’an’s Army’s surgical strikes were video games… he is not insulting the Congress, he is insulting the Army.”
He reiterated the claim made by the Congress on Thursday of six surgical strikes under the UPA government. “These were done by the Army… but we will not politicise the Army. The Prime Minister should have respect for the Army. He should not insult Army people.”
On Modi talking about the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Mazood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN as his government’s big achievement, Rahul said, “Azhar Masood is a terrorist and the strictest of actions should be taken against him. But who sent him there? How did he reach Pakistan? Did the Congress party send him there? Which government sent him there? Who sent him back, negotiating with terrorism, succumbing to terrorism? The fact of the matter is it is the BJP which compromises with terrorism… The Congress has never done anything like that… The Congress has not sent any terrorist to Pakistan and will never do such a thing.”
The BJP, in turn, called Rahul’s attacks on the PM a result of “desperation”. Rao said the Congress was desperate “because it is seeing not only its fortunes crumble all over India but also seeing its so-called bastions in Amethi and Rae Bareli crumbling”. “Field reports clearly suggest that Rahul Gandhi is losing Amethi by a wide margin and the party therefore, according to local reports, is resorting to unleashing manpower, distribution of liquor. Even a sizeable number of weapons have been seized from both the constituencies.”
Rao added, “People of the country want Modiji back. Rahul Gandhi knows the reality and is scared of losing Amethi, and out of desperation is making such claims which are factually incorrect.”