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EC’s photo fiat makes BJP uneasy

BJP feels the Election Commission's actions are biased and against the Modi regime, reports Shekhar Iyer.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2007 02:20 AM IST

First, it was the transfer of police officials in Gujarat. Then, it was a direction to remove pictures of Narendra Modi and other ministers from Gujarat government websites.

According to the BJP these actions by the Election Commission are enough to accuse the panel of nurturing a bias against the Modi regime -- because the Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh has not been subjected to similar orders.

"Has a single police officer been transferred in Himachal Pradesh, which is also going to polls? Has the Himachal government been told to remove Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s pictures from its websites?" asked BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley.

Rejecting the BJP's complaint, EC sources said the panel went strictly by the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officers of the states concerned and reports submitted by EC-appointed observers. A BJP delegation handed a written note to Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy on Tuesday, saying that “we expect that the CEC should verify the feasibility and desirability of such recommendations in the larger context and issue directions universally”. The note, signed by BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar and election cell convenor R Ramakrishna, said, “We are constrained to observe that in various matters like transfer of senior officers, the Commission is perceived as having a double standard – rigidity in the case of Gujarat and laxity in the case of Himachal Pradesh.” Such a perception denoting a biased attitude may not augur well with the highest standards of objectivity and impartiality which the Commission should maintain to ensure free and fair elections, they said.

The BJP leaders wondered why such instructions have been issued when websites are not on par with advertisements in the print and electronic media, which cater to the general public.

Meanwhile, Gujarat BJP general secretary Jayant Barot said the pattern division in the two election phases is quite arbitrary and was formulated to suit the Congress. He said “going by a logical approach, 182 constituencies should have been divided into two lots-- with one lot having constituencies from 1 to 91 and another from 91 to 182. Instead of this, the first phase has regions where the Congress is strong and another where it is weak. This is to give time to the Congress to manipulate voting in the second phase.”

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