The Election Commission has directed a committee of officers to examine Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of an anti-satellite test on Wednesday, after opposition leaders complained the move was aimed at scoring political points ahead of election next month.
In a television address to the nation, PM Modi said an Indian missile had shot down an Indian satellite in space, making India only the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to have that capability.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was filing a complaint against PM Modi with the Election Commission for violating the electoral code of conduct.
"Today's announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity-mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election (in April-May)," Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal state and a potential prime ministerial candidate, said on Twitter.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also called PM Modi's announcement a "gross violation of code of conduct."
The Election Commission said in a statement later that the matter had been brought to its notice. "The Commission has directed a Committee of Officers to examine the matter immediately in the light of Model Code of Conduct," it said.
What does the model code of conduct say?
Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct deals with the do's and dont's for the ruling parties and point 4 of the Part VII deals with misuse of official mass media by the ruling party for publicising their achievements during the election period.
The fourth point under the sub-heading 'VII. Party in Power' in the Model Code of Conduct uploaded on the Election Commission website reads
"Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided".
During a case in the Delhi High Court, the Election Commission had also submitted: "On any information being received by the Election Commission regarding violation of Model Code of Conduct after the announcement of elections, it calls for a report from the Government and decides about the necessary corrective action... if the violation complained of has or had the effect of influencing the minds of voters in favour of the party and vitiated the purity of election process after it has been announced by the Commission."