Ex-Bureaucrat Urges EC to Take Action Against Amit Shah for Violating Mode Code of Conduct
Election Commission. Image Courtesy: NDTV
Eminent civil society members have requested the Election Commission (EC) to act against Union Home Minister Amit Shah for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC); the request has been made regarding Shah's recent statement in an election rally in "which he spoke about how the rioters "were taught a lesson" in 2002, and thereafter BJP has ensured peace till the present day."
Shah has been accused of violating Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to "promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc…." Additionally, Shah, as per the activists, has also violated Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951- "which provides for disqualification for convictions for various sections of IPC including section 153 A."
The allegations were made in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Elections Commissioners AC Pandey and A. Goel by former secretary to Government of India EAS Sarma on November 26.
The letter included a news report which quoted Shah as saying: "During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society…..But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence.”
Sarma highlighted that Shah's statement implied that a political party "taught a lesson" to others by taking the law into their own hands. The statement was in reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots in which the state witnessed large-scale violence against Muslims following a train burning incident at Godhra.
Furthermore, Sarma reminded the EC that as a custodian of free and fair elections in the country, it should ascertain the veracity of Shah's statement. Additionally, the letter noted how "several incumbents of the office of the Commission in the past had demonstrated the authority of the Commission in its full measure and the people of this country, who repose trust in the Commission’s authority as an independent institution”. He said people now “expect the Commission to act objectively with the sole purpose of safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, impervious to extraneous influences.”
“The Commission cannot afford to permit political parties to indulge in divisive exhortations to the electorate and thereby influence elections against the public interest,” he added.
Similar to Sarma, social activist and academic Jagdeep Chhokar had also written to the EC about Shah's alleged violation of the MCC.
Chhokar also demanded that concerning gross violations of the MCC, the EC should defer elections in Gujarat "till such time that the environment becomes conducive to conducting elections freely and fairly."
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