Free Press Journal

As BJP defends Modi, Congress says EC insulted


New Delhi: As the BJP defended its leader Narendra Modi who was booked for flashing the party’s election symbol near a polling booth, the Congress Thursday slammed the main opposition party for insulting the EC.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley Thursday indirectly suggested that the Election Commission (EC) acted in haste when it asked for a police complaint to be registered against Modi.

Jaitley, in a blog published Thursday, said all politicians interact with the media after casting their votes.

“When constitutional institutions react in haste and even anger, they miss out the larger vision,” he wrote in the blog.

“Criminal law provisions are to be strictly construed. Their meaning can’t be stretched out. A public meeting is a public meeting, the media bite is not a public meeting. If media is to be prosecuted for displaying comments of politicians on a voting day, such a provision will fall foul of constitutional guarantee of free speech,” he said.

Jaitley’s comments come after Modi himself alleged that the Congress got an FIR registered against him as they were in “panic”.

Addressing an election meeting Wednesday night in Tirupati in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, he said the Congress was staring at defeat. “They are worried because a tea seller has challenged their dynasty,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said the poll panel acted on its own, and took on BJP for suggesting the commission was working at the behest of the Congress.

“Modi is aiming for the biggest position in the country, he must be more responsible. Is BJP trying to say EC is being run by the Congress,” said Afzal.

“This is an insult of the EC.”

“Congress did not register an FIR. The EC had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue, our complaint went later,” he said.

The Congress leader also slammed television channels for violating the model code of conduct by telecasting Modi’s comments.

“This is the third time they are violating the model code of conduct. First, they released their manifesto before the first polling day. Then, Modi’s road show in Varanasi was shown all across the country on a polling day. This is the third time,” he said, adding that “intention of some media houses also needs to be questioned for showing the road show (in Varanasi) for hours at a stretch”.

Modi was Wednesday booked for showing off his party symbol lotus close to a polling booth in Gandhinagar where he voted.

Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, complained that this violated the model code of conduct. On the urging of the poll panel, the Gujarat authorities filed a police complaint against Modi.