- Election Commission panel studying transcript of PM Modi speech
- Opposition alleged PM Modi's speech violated election code
- PM Modi in televised addressed announced ASAT missile test-firing
Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke rules with his televised address to the nation on Wednesday announcing a successful test of India's anti-satellite weapon will be decided by the Election Commission today. Opposition parties have alleged that the address just weeks before the national election is a violation of the code of conduct in place since the polls were announced earlier this month.
A panel of the Election Commission that is looking into the opposition's allegations is likely to submit its report today, sources told NDTV today. The Election Commission is also likely to take a decision on the report today, they said.
In his speech to the nation, PM Modi announced the successful test-firing of India's anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, Mission Shakti, and highlighted the government's efforts to strengthen national security. The opposition alleged the Prime Minister's speech violated the election code as it could influence voters in the middle of the campaign.
The model code is a series of dos and don'ts for the government and political parties, which comes into effect as soon as the elections are announced.
Though sources in the Election Commission said the government does not need to take permission for making announcements linked to national security, a spokesperson later on Wednesday evening tweeted that it would examine PM Modi's speech.
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 a transcript of the Prime Minister's speech is being examined by the panel.
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 PM's announcement was about 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 said on the opposition's criticism.
Opposition leaders from across party lines had accused PM Modi of using government machinery to advertise "Mission Shakti" and appropriate an achievement by the country's space scientists and the Defence Research and Development Organisation. While Mamata Banerjee dubbed it "another limitless drama", Rahul Gandhi wished PM Modi "a very happy World Theatre Day".