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Lok Sabha elections 2019: ‘Modi, Shah brazenly violated poll norms but enjoying arc of immunity’, says Abhishek Singhvi

“Rahul Gandhi is man enough to stand up and own his mistake. Rahul has told the apex court how in the heat of the moment he made that statement,” says senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 30, 2019 07:48 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
Abhishek Singhvi,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi talks about how the Election Commission of India (ECI) can impact the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. (PTI File Photo)

At a time when the Election Commission of India (ECI) has been at the receiving end of backlash from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition, senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi discusses the role of the political watchdog in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Edited excerpts:

How do you assess the Election Commission’s role in this election?

In about a month, we have filed over 40 representations. We have spectacular success in some cases for which, I have publicly complimented EC’s stand. I put it funnily during my argument that every morning I can come to collect the censure notices and then go and violate it in the evening and next day I can again return to collect another notice. I suggested to them that there must be some ban. They promptly accepted and imposed temporary ban on some leaders like Ajay Singh Bisht (Yogi Adityanath), a sitting chief minister. It is therefore all the more deplorable that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are enjoying an arc of immunity. Our petition against Modi is now six weeks-old but nothing has happened.

Forty complaints in a month look like a very high rate of submission to the EC even by Opposition standards?

The Prime Minister and BJP chief have unashamedly and brazenly violated poll norms. If you violate rules twice a day then you should be ready to face at least four complaints daily. We have seen other non-Congress PMs such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee or VP Singh. Did Mr Vajpayee ever invoke armed forces or Kargil in his election rallies? Mrs Indira Gandhi won 1971 war. But nobody tried this brazenness.

But polling in 69% seats is over now...

We told EC that merely you have allowed four red lights to be violated, you can’t allow the fifth violation. All their good work is partially wiped out because of this delay. I condemned them for this inaction and they have a partial chance to redeem themselves. It’s not the issue of how many phases are over. It’s the question of the majesty of the law.

But your party chief Rahul Gandhi deliberately misquoted the Supreme Court....

Rahul Gandhi is man enough to stand up and own his mistake. Rahul has told the apex court how in the heat of the moment he made that statement. He expressed regret and regret is another form of apology. But he has said that as far as Rafale is concerned, our political stand and political slogan remains. It is a fair disclosure. But Mr Modi and Mr Shah function beyond laws.

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 07:36 IST