- PM Modi announced anti-satellite missile test just days before polls
- Opposition parties allege it gave PM free, unfair publicity
- Officers to immediately examine if it was a violation: Election body
The Election Commission said it is studying last morning's announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the anti-satellite missile test, Mission Shakti. The opposition parties had raised a clamour after the announcement, claiming the Prime Minister was trying to gain political points two weeks before the national elections, and that it was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
The Model Code is a series of dos and don'ts for the caretaker government and political parties, which comes into effect as soon as the elections are announced.
After various opposition parties questioned if the government had taken permission before the special address of the Prime Minister, sources in the election watchdog said no permission is required for announcements linked to national security.
But in the evening, the Commission spokesperson tweeted:
The matter related to the address of the Prime Minister to the Nation on electronic media today afternoon has been brought to the notice of ECI.The Commission has directed a Committee of Officers to examine the matter immediately in the light of Model Code of Conduct.— Sheyphali Sharan (@SpokespersonECI) March 27, 2019
Sources said the election officials have sought a transcript of the Prime Minister's speech and a panel has been formed to examine it.
According to the commission's model code of conduct for elections, the party in power cannot use public money to publicise achievements ahead of elections. "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," it says.
The government has accused the opposition of making "clerical objections" when the issue concerns national security, regional security and geopolitical security.
"You are not at all bothered about national security... When the finger points to the moon, the idiot always points to the finger... The lower they (the opposition) go the stronger we will emerge," Union minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the opposition's scathing attack on the government.
Earlier today, opposition leaders from across party lines had targeted PM Modi over the announcement. While Mamata Banerjee dubbed it "another limitless drama", Rahul Gandhi wished PM Modi "a very happy World Theatre Day".