- BJP has made national security, nationalism key themes for the election
- Several leaders have invoked IAF attacks in Balakot in their poll rallies
- PM Modi had also issued an appeal in the name of Pulwama "martyrs"
Action will be taken soon in case of comments that politicise the armed forces, sources in the Election Commission told NDTV, amid huge opposition criticism over its inaction on such statements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. The Commission had asked political leaders to refrain from dragging the armed forces into the election campaign after several leaders had invoked the IAF attacks on a Jaish-e Mohammad camp at Pakistan's Balakot.
But with the BJP making national security and nationalism the party's key theme for the election, the order was routinely disregarded. The Commission now has to decide whether it constitutes a violation of the Model Code and is actionable.
Yesterday, the Commission said it was still examining all such instances involving the Prime Minister "in entirety".
Today, sources in the top election body said, "There will soon be action". When asked to clarify a timeline, the official said "We will not wait for the election to end. Poll officers are collecting details".
On April 9, the Prime Minister had issued a direct appeal in the name of soldiers and the "martyrs" who died in the suicide attack at Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
"I want to ask my first-time voters, can your first vote be dedicated to the soldiers who conducted the Balakot air strikes? Can your first vote be in the name of the martyrs who lost their lives in Pulwama," PM Modi had said at a rally in Maharashtra.
In response to a complaint, a report was submitted on April 11 by local election officials, which said prima facie, the Prime Minister had violated the model code.
The opposition has accused the Narendra Modi government of using the successes of the armed forces to build an impression that the BJP alone cares about the nation, while labelling the opposition parties are "anti-national".
Senior leaders of his party, including party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath, have tagged the armed forces "Modi-ji ki sena" - triggering objections from officers who flagged the matter with the defence ministry.
The Poll Commission has been active since it was pulled up by the Supreme Court earlier this month over allegations of inaction in cases of Model Code violation.
It handed temporary bans to a number of political leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Maneka Gandhi and Mayawati.
Opposition leaders, however, alleged that the Commission was dragging its feet where the Prime Minister was concerned despite ample evidence.