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EC issues showcause notice to Congress

Election Commission in its notice said, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Ajit Jogi breached code of conduct by using Chhattisgarh Govt's aircraft for electioneering.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2003 21:00 IST

In a jolt to Congress, the Election Commission on Tuesday said its president Sonia Gandhi and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi have "violated" the model of conduct by using the state government aircraft during electioneering and issued a showcause notice to it as to why its recognition as a national party should not be "suspended or withdrawn".

The Commission is of the opinion that one aircraft and one helicopter owned by the state government have been "used" by Gandhi, Jogi and Madhya Pradesh assembly speaker Shrinivas Tiwari "in violation of model code of conduct" and its specific directives, the poll panel said in a press release.

The release, issued after a full Commission meeting chaired by CEC JM Lyngdoh, said it is "prima facie of the view that the provisions of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, are squarely attracted in the present case of the use of the aircraft by the leaders of the Congress in violation of the model code of conduct and the lawful directions and instructions of the Commission."

The Commission asked the party to show cause within a period of seven days, as to why its recognition as a National party may not be suspended or withdrawn.

"In the event of default of the party to respond to the present notice within the time stipulated, it will be presumed that the party has nothing to say in the matter and the Election Commission will take appropriate action or decision without further reference to the party," it said.

The Commission said it had received "several" complaints that the aircraft belonging to the state Government were being "misused" for campaigning by Congress leaders.

"On enquiry, the Commission has found that the aircraft, namely, Beechcraft B200 aircraft VT-MPG and EC-135 helicopter VT-CGH, both owned by the Chhattisgarh government have been used on and after October 6 up to November 12" for as many as 10 times, the order said.

The poll panel brought to the attention of the Congress in the show cause notice that it was a well-settled fact that the model code comes into operation from the date of announcement of the election schedule, which came into force in the state from October 6.

Noting that to ensure a level playing field for all parties in the fray, the Commission recalled as having directed that there shall be an absolute ban on the use of the state-owned aircraft propelled at state cost or hired at state cost for any reason, including security, and no exception shall be made in any case except in the case of the Prime Minister.

First Published: Nov 18, 2003 20:17 IST