Amid multiple model code violation allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a blog post today that the poll code cannot encroach upon the right to free speech. He also hit out the Congress, which has often made these allegations, calling the party a "crybaby".
"The Model Code of Conduct cannot encroach upon the right to free speech. The two have to exist harmoniously," he wrote in a blogpost titled 'Model Code of Conduct Does Not Take Away the Right to Free Speech''.
"Of late, a tendency has developed amongst the political parties to excessively allege violation of the MCC by their opponents. The Congress Party as the 'Cry Baby' of this election is leading the pack," Mr Jaitley added.
PM Modi has been accused of violating the poll code with his election speeches. At a rally in Maharashtra last month, he had said, "Can your first vote be dedicated to those who carried out the air strike? Can your first vote be dedicated to the valiant soldiers who carried out the air strike in Pakistan? Can your first vote be dedicated to the the brave martyrs of Pulwama?"
Referring to PM's appeal to first time voters, Mr Jaitley said that "no party or candidate was mentioned".
Mr Jaitley also hit out at the Congress for complaining about PM Modi to the Election Commission. PM Modi's comment that Rahul Gandhi's father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi died "corrupt number 1" had been widely condemned.
"They can call even an honest Prime Minister a 'Chor' but others don't possess that right," he said.
Referring to PM Modi's comment about Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad, Mr Jaitley said the Prime Minister only commented on the demographic composition of the constituency.
"If such speeches are considered by anyone as violative of the MCC, that may actually run the danger of the MCC's constitutionality in relation to free speech being called into question," he said.
"To avoid such a situation, the memorialist must keep in mind that the Right to Free Speech has not been diluted by the MCC in any way," Mr Jaitley added.
The Election Commission has given PM Modi 6 clean chits in poll code violation cases.