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Cong moves EC seeking campaign ban on Modi for invoking armed forces in poll pitch

twitter-logoPTI | April 22, 2019 | Updated 21:04 IST

New Delhi, Apr 22 (PTI) The Congress on Monday moved the Election Commission alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "brazenly" violated the poll code by invoking armed forces repeatedly in his poll campaign and demanded that a campaign ban be imposed on him for some time. A party delegation comprising senior leaders Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh and Abhishek Manu Singhvi made several representations to the Election Commission (EC), including against Modi, citing at least 10 examples of the Prime Minister allegedly invoking armed forces and defence personnel for seeking votes. The opposition party also gave a memorandum against Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer's ban on use of the slogan "Chowkidar Chor Hai". "The said ban on the usage is a direct violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution of India," the party said in its memorandum. In another representation, the Congress complained against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, alleging that after casting her vote on April 18 in Bengaluru she said "Abki baar phir Modi sarkar (Modi government once again)". "You cannot do such sloganeering at the polling booth. We have the video. We have given the video to EC. The ruling party is paying no heed to EC directives," Sibal told reporters outside the EC. Singhvi said that out of the several representations the party made, two were related to invoking of the armed forces during campaigning. He alleged that despite the EC issuing so many directives and asking all parties to exercise utmost caution, Prime Minister Modi has repeatedly invoked armed forces and defence personnel as part of his election campaign, directly violating the Commission's notifications. He cited the examples of Modi's recent speeches in Rajathan's Barmer and Gujarat's Patan. "Pakistan used to give nuclear threats. What do we have? Have we kept it for 'Diwali'? (Warna aay din nuclear button hai, ye kehte the. Hamare paas kya hai? Ye Diwali ke liye rakha hai kya)," the prime minister had said in Barmer. In Patan, he had stated that after Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was held by Pakistan, a senior American official on the second day said that "Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack and the situation will deteriorate". "Pakistan announced return of the pilot or else it was going to be a 'qatl ki raat'," the prime minister had said. Citing the EC's action against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath of a 72-hour campaign ban, Singhvi said the Congress has asked the poll panel that if the law is the same for everyone then for at least "one day, two days, or three days" ban should also be imposed on the Prime Minister. The Congress also urged the poll panel to initiate criminal cases against Vijaya Sankeshwar, owner of Vijaya Vani newspaper and Dighvijaya news channel, for allegedly circulating a "fake and fabricated" letter of Karnataka Home Minister M B Patil. The "fake letter", circulated on the channel and published in the newspaper, says that "we will consolidate Christians and Muslim vote while seeking minority status for Ligayats to divide the Hindu vote", Sibal said. The party also asked the poll panel to take strict action against alleged "misuse" of investigative agencies by the government for propaganda by carrying out raids against opponents. It specifically complained against the raid on one of its candidates in Bihar. In another memorandum, the Congress said that on April 21 Niranjan Patnaik, the President of the Odisha Pradesh Congress committee, along with an election observer and 25 Congress workers were attacked and assaulted in Ghasipura assembly constituency by a group of men allegedly led by the sons of the sitting MLA of Ghasipura assembly constituency Badri Narayan Patra, who belongs to the ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD). This Commission cannot allow individuals of the state ruling party to take advantage of their position and assault senior leaders of other political parties and hamper the election campaign of candidates, thereby affecting the free and fair elections, the Congress said in its memorandum. The Congress also sought necessary directions to chief election officer and other relevant authorities to take adequate steps to tighten the security for strong rooms in Karur, Tamil Nadu. PTI ASK RT

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