Poll Body Schools BJP, Congress

'Correct Discourse, Maintain Decorum': Poll Body Schools BJP, CongressNew Delhi:

Five phases of the Lok Sabha election over, the Election Commission today came down heavily on the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress over poll speeches by star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

In separate directions issued to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the poll body said the country’s socio-cultural milieu cannot become a casualty to elections. The two major parties, it said, are not allowed to weaken the heritage of the Indian voter’s quality electoral experiences.

Earlier, both parties had approached the Election Commission and complained against each other’s leaders. The poll body had issued notices and sought their responses on the allegations. In today’s directions, it has rejected their defences.

In its letter to Mr Nadda, the poll body has said it expects BJP, “as the ruling party at the Centre to fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”.

The commission has directed the BJP to instruct all star campaigners to refrain from making any statement prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct. The rules, it stressed, provide that “No Party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing difference or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.

The poll body directed the BJP chief to direct all star campaigners “to not make speeches and statements, which may divide the society”. It also directed the star campaigners to “refrain from any campaigning methods/utterances along religious communal lines”. The poll body also called for decorum in speeches by the party’s star campaigners.

The Election Commission’s letter to Mr Kharge said that it expects the Congress to “fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India”.

The poll body asked the Congress chief to direct its star campaigners to avoid making statements prohibited under the General Conduct rules of the model code of conduct.

Mr Kharge was also directed to ask Congress star campaigners to “desist as part of the election campaigning from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of the Defence forces and not to make potentially divisive statements regarding socio-economic composition of Defence forces”. He was also told to instruct star campaigners “that they do not make statements which give false impression such as that the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold”.

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