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Congress brands EC Narendra Modi’s ‘puppet’, files complaint against PM’s ‘roadshow’ after voting

Gujarat elections 2017: The Congress launched an unprecedented attack on the Election Commission, saying Prime Minister has “turned all Constitutional institutions into his puppets”.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2017 22:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gujarat elections,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his ink-marked finger after casting his vote outside a polling station during the last phase of Gujarat assembly election in Ahmedabad on Thursday. (Reuters)

The Congress on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Election Commission (EC), saying the “sinking ship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign is being saved by the poll panel”.

In Ahmedabad, the party also filed a complaint with the EC against Modi for allegedly violating the model code of conduct by holding a “roadshow” even as voting in the second phase of Gujarat elections was underway.

Later in the day, Congress workers marched to the Election Commission to protest against Modi’s roadshow. They were stopped by the police outside Sardar Patel Bhawan near Patel Chowk in Delhi and many were detained.

“The Election Commission of India has set different standards for the BJP and the Congress. What is the reason for the poll panel to behave like a frontal organisation of BJP,” asked Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala at a press conference in New Delhi. (Phase 2 voting LIVE updates)

“It is a great shame that PM Narendra Modi has turned all constitutional institutions into his puppets, the Election Commission of India being one of them,” added Surjewala.

Achal Kumar Joti, the target of the Congress’ diatribe, took over as chief election commissioner in July. A 1975-batch IAS officer, Joti was the chief secretary of Gujarat when Modi was chief minister. He was also a secretary in the industry, revenue and water supply departments in the state.

“The Gujarat elections will not be decided by photo-ops, sea planes and road shows. It will be decided on progress and issues related to development.” — Randeep Surjewala, Congress spokesperson

The Congress’ attack comes a day after the Election Commission sought an explanation from party president-elect Rahul Gandhi for appearing in TV interviews ahead of the second phase of voting in Gujarat, which it said was a violation of the model code of conduct.

The EC, on Wednesday, also filed FIRs against TV channels that aired the interviews, saying rules prohibit display of any “election matter” within 48 hours of the start of polling.

The Congress, however, accused the poll panel of favouritism and questioned why it has not taken similar action against Modi who allegedly made political statements at a business meeting on Wednesday when he targeted the previous UPA government.

“The Election Commission of India filed an FIR on TV channels based on a complaint by BJP member within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the Commission has denigrated the Constitution of India. This shows how the institution has become a captive puppet of the BJP,” said Surjewala.

The party said Modi also addressed four public rallies on December 9, the polling day for the first phase of elections in Gujarat.

“PM Modi’s roadshow after casting vote is a clear case of violation of the model code of conduct. The Election Commission, it seems, is working under pressure from the PM and the PMO,” said Ashok Gehlot, Congress’ Gujarat in-charge, at the press meet.

In Ahmedabad, Modi, while leaving the polling booth at Ranip locality after casting his vote, held up his inked finger and greeted the crowd. He also stood on the side-step of his SUV, which moved slowly through the street for some distance, which the Congress says is akin to a “political roadshow”.

Gujarat chief electoral officer BB Swain said the panel will look into the complaint.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 13:39 IST