In sixth clean chit, poll panel clears PM Modi’s Gujarat speech

The Election Commission, while issuing the fifth clean chit to PM Narendra Modi, said that his speeches did not constitute a poll code violation.
PM Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah.(AP)
PM Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah.(AP)
Updated on May 05, 2019 08:49 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

The Election Commission cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday of any wrongdoing in a complaint by the Congress of violating the model code of conduct in speeches made in Gujarat’s Patan earlier this month.

With this, the poll watchdog has cleared the PM in six cases of alleged violation of the model code of conduct. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah has been cleared in two cases and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in one case.

In the rally, PM Modi had, in a reference to the capture of an Indian air force pilot by Pakistan after a dogfight, said, “We held a press conference and warned Pakistan that if anything happened to our pilot, you will keep telling the world what Modi did to you. A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack. Pakistan soon announced the return of Abhinandan, or else it was going to be a ‘qatal ki raat’ (night of murder).”

The Congress had alleged that the speech violated the model code. But the EC disagreed.

“The matter has been examined in detail in accordance with the extant advisories, provisions of the model code of conduct. After examination, commission is of the view that in this matter no such violation,” a statement by the EC read.

The poll watchdog has now addressed eight of the 11 complaints of model code violation pending before it.

The Supreme Court had given the EC time till May 6 to dispose off all the complaints while listening to a petition by Congress MP Sushmita Dev, who had accused the poll body of inaction.

The EC gave clean chit to PM Modi in six instances — for his speeches in Wardha, where he referred to Wayanad (from where Gandhi is contesting along with Amethi in Uttar Pradesh) as a place where the “minority is majority”, in Latur where he asked young people to dedicate their vote to Balakot ( a reference to the air strikes on terror bases in Pakistan), in Barmer where he said that India was not preserving its nuclear arsenal for use on Diwali, in Varanasi where he said 42 terrorists had been killed to avenge the death of 40 troopers in Pulwama and in Nanded, where he dubbed the Congress a “sinking Titanic”.

Reacting to the clearance, Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said, “The PM invokes minorities and majorities making obvious references to religions in the course of campaigns. He refers to Armed Forces as his forces, in a manner in which they are a zamindar’s mercenaries. The list is endless…Yet, we leave it to the conscience of the EC when validity is concerned. We wouldn’t demean constitutional bodies.”

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