- Congress says PM, Amit Shah repeatedly invoked armed forces at rallies
- Congress says poll body's response to complaints is less-than-lukewarm
- Poll body had asked parties to not refer to armed forces during campaigns
The Congress is planning to move court today against the Election Commission's alleged inaction on complaints lodged against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for repeatedly invoking the armed forces in violation of the Model Code of Conduct, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi has said.
Mr Singhvi disclosed this in an interaction on NDTV's Left, Right and Centre show on Sunday. He was referring to an advisory issued by the Election Commission last month that categorically asked political parties to "desist" from referring to the Indian military in their poll campaigns in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strikes earlier this year.
The Congress has alleged that despite such clear instructions, PM Modi and Amit Shah repeatedly cited military operations undertaken by the armed forces under the BJP rule at election rallies leading up to the Lok Sabha elections.
PM Modi claimed at a campaign rally in Gujarat's Surendranagar district on April 17 that his government had called Pakistan's bluff after the Pulwama terror attack, which resulted in the death of 40 CRPF personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on February 14. "Earlier terrorists from Pakistan would carry out attacks in our country and go back unscathed, threatening to launch their nuclear bombs if we retaliate. But we have the nuclear bomb of nuclear bombs. I told them to do what they want (but we will retaliate)," the Prime Minister said.
Amit Shah claimed at a public meeting in Bihar's Sitamarhi on Sunday that the Modi government had secured the country's borders and made national security its main priority. "India is only the third country after Israel and United States to have retaliated to terrorism in this brave manner," he said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also triggered a controversy earlier this month by referring to the Indian Army as "Modiji ki Sena (PM Modi's army)" -- an assertion that was denounced by opposition parties as well as army veterans. Other BJP leaders such as Union Minister Smriti Irani and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also made similar claims.
The Congress alleges that its complaints to the Election Commission on repeated claims of the kind by PM Modi and Amit Shah have been met with a less-than-lukewarm response. Senior party leader P Chidambaram on Sunday accused the election body of being a "silent spectator to the BJP's excesses", and claimed that it has "largely failed" the people of India. He also said this was the first time that central agencies such as the Income Tax department, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate were being so "blatantly misused" during the election period.
Several opposition leaders were raided by Income Tax officials in the run-up to the elections.
(With inputs from Agencies)