Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Narendra Modi intended to influence voters, says furious Election Commission // EC orders police complaint against Modi for holding press conference after voting

NB: The man who is being lauded by our leading opinion-makers for being a 'moderate', yet again demonstrates his contempt for the law. Doesn't he understand the simple directives of the electoral code of conduct? And the TV channels which collaborated in this violation, don't they have any idea that there  is a limit to their partisan behaviour? No doubt Modi and his 'parivar' are confident they can intimidate anyone who criticises or opposes them. Modi has declared that an FIR makes sense only if a knife had come into the picture, whereas all he did was 'show everyone a lotus'. This is a mockery. Obviously he has not read (or has no respect for) the RP Act (see relevant section below). Indians who value democracy and the rule of law should prepare themselves for more illegal practices from Mr Modi.  Given the plight of Gujarat police officers who stood up to him, the EC should expect the worst. Or maybe the case will drag on, and ultimately we shall be told 'there is no evidence'. 

All the editors and public intellectuals who keep reminding us of the strength of Indian institutions should speak up now and not allow the Election Commission to be intimidated by Modi and his 'parivar': DS

In its notice, the EC said "it was evident that the said address was in the nature of political speech intended & calculated to influence & affect the result of elections in the constituencies going to polls today, not only in Ahmadabad but also in all other constituencies in the State of Gujarat & elsewhere in the country." By holding that meeting, "Narendra Modi has violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1) (a) and 126 (l) (b) of R.P. Act 1951." "Therefore, the Commission directs... that complaint/ FIR as the case may be, should be filed against Narendra Modi and all others who were involved in the convening and holding of the said meeting...," the EC order said. It has asked the Gujarat Chief Secretary and DGP to send a compliance report by 6 PM today. It also said that all the TV channels & other electronic media which carried the proceedings of the meeting & displayed the election matter should also be proceeded against under Section 126 (l) (b) "by filing separate complaints/FlRs against those channels." The EC took the decision after going through the video recording of the address of the BJP's Prime Ministerial pick at a meeting in Gandhinagar after he cast his vote today. 
Read the entire notice->: EC notice to Narendra Modi

Relevant section of the R.P. Act 1951: <click to read its contents
6[126. Prohibition of public meetings during period of forty—eight hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll.— (1) No person shall— (a) convene, hold or attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election; or (b) display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus; or (c) propagate any election matter to the public by holding, or by arranging the holding of, any musical concert or any theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attracting the members of the public thereto, in any polling area during the period of forty-eight hours ending with the fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in the polling area. (2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. (3) In this section, the expression "election matter" means any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.].

Note: Section 126 of the R.P. Act prohibits public meetings 48 hours before the poll. No-one may hold or address any election-related meeting; or display any election matter; or propagate any election matter by any performance intended to attract public attention for any election in the polling area, during the 48 hours up to the end of the poll. By flaunting his election symbol for TV cameras, Modi violated Section 126. For him to say an FIR only makes sense if he were caught brandishing weapons, or for BJP to say there ‘was no formal meeting’, is making fun of the law. The question of whether or not this was a formal meeting is irrelevant, because the scene was telecast to the whole country and is an irreversible act affecting the fairness of the election. Anyone can see that it is not a matter of being within 100 or 200 metres of a polling booth (which is what the Modi camp is saying). All those who are dismissing this grave violation as a pro-Congress conspiracy by the EC or are making light of it are displaying their contempt of the constitution. State officials are nort servants of government, but servants of the Indian constitution. They should not be intimidated by intimidatory behaviour of the Modi camp and perform their duties without fear or favour. DS

Narendra Modi intended to influence voters, says furious Election Commission
Moments after he voted, Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate tweeted a selfie of his ink-stained finger and emerged from a voting booth in Ahmedabad, flashing a cut-out of his party's lotus symbol and addressed cheering crowds. "After analysing the election process and the voter's mind until now, I can say that this time nothing can save the mother-son government...a strong government will come to power," said Mr Modi, all dressed in white, promising the defeat of the incumbent Congress which is led by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

Hours later, the powerful Election Commission ordered that a police complaint or FIR (First Information Report) be filed against Mr Modi, 63, for his actions which it said amounted to campaigning in a polling area, which is banned. "It is evident from Modi's tone and tenor that he made a political speech. He intended, calculated to influence voting today. Modi intended to affect the results of polling today across India," the Commission said. "It was not an organized press conference," said BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi today, referring to Mr Modi's speech this morning. "We respect the Election Commission but Mr Modi did not violate the code of conduct," she added.  Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed accused Mr Modi of being "a serial offender." His party had earlier objected to the release of the BJP manifesto on April 7, when voting in the nine-phase general election began. 89 parliamentary constituencies in seven states and two union territories voted today. Among them was Vadodara, which is one of the two constituencies that Mr Modi is running from. The other is Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, which votes on the final day of the election on May 12.

Narendra Modi on Wednesday triggered a controversy after he openly sought votes for the BJP at a press conference while holding aloft his party's lotus symbol immediately after casting his ballot. With the Congress moving the Election Commission, the poll body sought a report from the returning officer and directed the Gujarat administration to file a complaint/FIR against Modi for "violating" the model code of conduct. Asking the state to furnish a compliance report by 6pm, the commission said Modi had violated provisions of Sections 126(1)(a) and 126 (l) (b) of The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. Though it is a normal practice for top leaders to make brief statements to the media after casting their votes, what irked Modi's rivals was a full-fledged press conference that the Gujarat chief minister held.
Modi not only fervently asked the electorate to vote for the BJP but also launched a tirade against the Congress. The BJP's prime ministerial hopeful also clicked a selfie prominently displaying the party symbol and posted it on Twitter. AICC legal department secretary K C Mittal promptly filed a complaint with the EC, saying Modi's speech and display of symbol was in violation of the RPA and demanded an FIR be registered against him. "It is noticed from the live news telecast on various news channels that Modi went to the polling station at Gandhinagar to cast his vote. "And on his way out, he was campaigning for BJP and delivering speech in a fashion to canvass for BJP, himself and also displayed the election symbol to the public while showing his finger for having cast his vote," the Congress said in the complaint, adding, "He may also be disqualified for such blatant violation." Roopwant Singh, Ahmedabad collector and the returning officer for the poll, said, "We have sent a preliminary report. Shall submit video clip..." As per the Election Commission norms, a candidate is liable to be booked for model code violation if he canvasses within a radius of 100 metres of a polling booth.