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Published On: Wed, Dec 13th, 2017

EC notice to Rahul for violating model code

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Rahul-Gandhi-genNEW DELHI : The Election Commission on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for “prima facie” violating the provisions of the election law and the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving interviews to TV channels in Gujarat where the final phase of polls is due tomorrow.Earlier in the day, the BJP had lodged a complaint to the EC regarding the telecast of Gandhi’s interview.

December 18 evening, failing which it will decide the matter without any reference to him. The counting of votes is also scheduled on that day. The Commission directed registration of FIRs against all the media houses for airing the interview. The TV channels were also directed to stop airing the interview immediately.

In his interview to local TV news channels, Rahul Gandhi slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party BJP for failing to address the real issues of Gujarat and distracting the voters by a misleading election campaign. He also exuded confidence that his party will make a comeback in Gujarat after a gap of 22 long years.

The EC said the action was being initiated as such an interview fell within the definition of “election matter” as provided in Section 126(1)(b) of the Act. Display of such an election matter within 48 hours ahead of the second phase of the assembly polls in Gujarat amounts to violation of the provision, said the Commission.

The EC order drew a sharp reaction from the Congress party, with its Media in-charge Randeep Surjewala tweeting “new norms of justice by ECI”. He said a delegation led by Congress leader Ashok Gehlot will visit the EC office late on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Surjewala said while FIR was being registered against TV channels for showing Mr. Gandhi’s interview, why no such action was being taken against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah on the same ground.
He said Mr. Jaitley had released the party manifesto in Ahmedabad on December 8; Mr. Modi held four public meetings on December 9; and Mr. Shah did a press conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

The BJP had earlier lodged a complaint with the Commission seeking action. “As per the Model Code of Conduct, such interviews are not permitted. We’ve learnt from the EC too that 48 hours in the run-up to polls, interviews can’t be given. Is Congress so insecure? Only Rahul Gandhi can answer,” said BJP leader and Union Minister Piyush Goyal.
On the other hand, the Congress accused Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Gujarat BJP Chief Jitubhai Vaghani of making threat calls to media houses for airing Mr. Gandhi’s interview.

”We have been directed by the EC to take actions by filing FIR against violation of 126 (1) (b) of Representation of People Act 1951 in the areas going to polls tomorrow and we are working on it, ” BB Swain, Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat, said.
”In 2014 elections, Modi Ji even showed BJP symbol on voting day but EC didn’t act. BJP held a press briefing just before the 1st phase of Gujarat election. These double standards won’t work and 1st FIR should be filed against PM Modi and other BJP leaders instead of press,” Randeep Surjewala, Congress, hit back. (With Agemvy Inputs ).

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