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Elections 2019: ECI’s Code of Conduct Tested by a Trail of Violations

The credibility of ECI has come under scrutiny with people pointing out several instances of violations of Model Code of Conduct, especially by members belonging to the ruling dispensation.
Elections 2019: ECI’s Code of Conduct Tested by a Trail of Violations

Image Courtesy: India Today

A day before the PM Modi biopic was to be released across the country, on Wednesday, April 10, the Election Commission of India (ECI) put a ban on it’s screening till the results of the Lok Sabha polls are declared. The EC stated that any such film that subserves the purpose of any political entity or individual should not be displayed in the electronic media. 

However, this may have come too late and too little. With the polls starting from April 11, the credibility of ECI has come under scrutiny with people pointing out several instances of violations of Model Code of Conduct.

In a major embarrassment for the ECI on Tuesday, Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Mai Bhi Chowkidar’ cap was found in an EC vehicle in Uttarakhand's Tehri. Following which, scores of angry workers of Congress were engaged in heated arguments with EC officials and asked the staff to also carry Congress' flag on its car. Meanwhile, the party members have taken this matter to the state Election Commission and a probe has been ordered, as per reports.

But this is not the first when the ECI has faced flak over its action and inaction over Model Code of Conduct (MCC). It all started when the opposition parties accused the panel of being biased in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), when they didn’t stop the promotion of the PM Modi biopic, which they say gives Modi an unfair advantage in the Lok Sabha polls. 

Also Read: Elections 2019: Modi Biopic and a Trail of Violations

Here are a series of instances showing how the ruling dispensation has made a mockery of the MCC:

Following the imposition of Model Code of Conduct on March 10, the ECI had issued an advisory on March 19 asking all political parties and their candidates not to use the defence forces during their election campaign. However in a blatant violation of the advisory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing a rally in Latur district of Maharashtra on April 9 appealed to the first-time voters at a poll rally to dedicate their votes to those who who conducted the Balakot air strikes and their first vote should be in the name of the martyrs who lost their lives in Pulwama. 

Soon after, several opposition parties created a furore over this. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]) has written to the EC against Modi, accusing him of violating the MCC during his speeches at public meetings in Maharashtra and Karnataka. 

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took to Twitter and said, "This happened today and is in the public domain. The Election Commission should initiate disciplinary proceedings against Modi. It is a blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct, despite the recent advisory issued by the EC recently."

Political Narrative Being Changed - Hindu Vs Muslim

Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the political narrative has been totally changed. Despite a warning to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on April 8, for referring to the Indian Army as "Modiji Ki Sena" (Modi's army), on the very next day while addressing a rally in Meerut, the controversial UP CM accused Bahujan Samaj Party head Mayawati of appeasing Muslim votes for electoral alliance. Yogi said, "Agar Congress, SP, BSP ko 'Ali' par vishwaas hai toh humein bhi 'Bajrangbali' par vishwaas hai (If Congress, SP, BSP have faith in Ali, then we have in Bajrangbali.)"  

Also Read: The Season of Absurdity in the Election Year

The 'monk' CM did not stop here, he also compared the Indian Union Muslim League to a "green virus" and asked voters to vote accordingly. After opposition parties raised questions against the EC, the panel has issued notice to Adityanath on the matter on Wednesday.

TV Serials Promoting PM Modi Ahead of Lok Sabha Polls 

A popular television serial Bhabhi ji Ghar Par Hai, which is aired on the Zee Entertainment Network’s group of channels, was found promoting a number of schemes floated under the Modi government during the poll season. Maharashtra's additional chief electoral officer Dilip Shinde on Wednesday said that complaints were received of violation of the poll code by two serials being aired on Zee TV and &TV. The Congress also submitted video clips from the two serials to the EC.

Namo TV Mystery 

Opposition parties like the Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Congress have complained to the Election Commission about the channel committing gross violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Also Read: The NaMo TV Mystery

Sources in the Election Commission were quoted as saying by NDTV, that the poll panel's order on 'PM Narendra Modi' biopic is also applicable to NaMo TV. The paragraph "10.2" of the EC order categorically clarifies that NaMo TV is violation of the Model Code of Conduct, it reported.

Main Bhi Chowkidar in IRCTC

Another instance which received widespread flak on social media was when passengers of the Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi Express were served tea with the PM’s #MainBhiChowkidar campaign. Social media users immediately took to Twitter and other such social media platforms to point out this violation of model code of conduct. Not only Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, recently, the Railways and Civil Aviation Ministries had also come under the scanner after they used Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures on rail tickets and Air India boarding passes.

66 Retired Civil Servants Raise Questions On ‘Credibility of EC at All-time Low’

A group of retired civil servants on Monday (April 8) wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind in a deep anguish about the erosion of people’s confidence in the credibility and the fairness of the Election Commission of India (ECI). They appealed to the President to ensure that the conduct of the constitutional body is independent, fair and impartial.

The civil servants cited example of the launch of the NaMo TV being broadcast across DTH platforms, terming the response of the poll body “lethargic”. The letter mentions the instance when the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had termed the Indian Army “Modi ji ki Sena”. In spite of the blatant attempt at politicisation of the army, EC was easy on him, and only instructed him to be “careful”. The election body did not count it as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the successful test of an anti-satellite missiles.

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