Lok Sabha polls: Modi is trying to rouse communal passions, CPI(M) alleges in a letter to poll panel

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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday demanded that the Election Commission take action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged “brazen violations” of the Model Code of Conduct. The party’s Polit Bureau member Nilotpal Basu cited Modi’s announcement about the successful test of an anti-satellite missile on March 27 as the main violation and other instances to support his claims.

A panel set up by the poll commission had on March 29 said there were no violations of the Model Code of Conduct in Modi’s speech.

The CPI(M) leader also accused Modi of attempting to “rouse communal passions by implicitly referring to the outcome in a National Investigation Agency Court, by equating the accused to the entire Hindu community in an election meeting in Wardha”. Basu was referring to Modi’s statement that the Congress had coined the term “Hindu terror”.

Basu said such developments can vitiate the social atmosphere before the Lok Sabha polls. “You would kindly recall that we had pointed out to you the impropriety of the public broadcast by the PM on the destruction of a defunct satellite in low orbit with missile,” Basu’s letter to the panel said. “The fundamental question was whether the Prime Minister, who is also a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, can use the office and the prerogatives to try and influence for the sake of electoral benefit?”

The CPI(M) leader accused the Election Commission of restricting the inquiry to the role of Doordarshan and giving the national broadcaster a clean chit. “Now, our attention has been drawn to a tweet by Doordarshan News urging people to watch the PM’s live addresses for his #MainBhiChowkidar programme through video conferencing,” Basu wrote. “The print-out of the tweet is appended herewith.”

Basu also cited the BJP’s reference to air strikes across the Line of Control. “The Commission had taken note and passed an order to categorically forbid such use of the armed forces in the election campaign,” Basu wrote. “But now in clear violation of that order, the BJP leader and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Adityanath has referred to the Indian Army as ‘Modiji ki Sena’ while addressing a rally in Ghaziabad on April 1.”

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Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury had filed a complaint with the Election Commission, alleging that Modi’s Mission Shakti speech had violated the Model Code of Conduct. The poll body then decided to set up the panel to look into the matter immediately.

The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 10, after the Election Commission announced the dates for the Lok Sabha polls. The poll body said the elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, with the results announced on May 23.

On March 9, the Election Commission instructed political parties to keep the country’s defence personnel out of election campaigning and not to use their photographs in advertisements. The order came following a Ministry of Defence complaint. There had been instances of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders using Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s photo in election posters. Varthaman’s MiG-21 jet was downed by Pakistani F-16s over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 27 during a dogfight. The pilot was returned to India on March 1.

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