Poll Body Scraps Notice To Rahul Gandhi For Interview Before Gujarat Vote

The interview of Rahul Gandhi, aired by a local television channel in Gujarat ahead of voting, became a new flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP on Wednesday.The Election Commission had issued a notice to Mr Gandhi - saying he "prima facie" violated the model code of conduct - following a complaint by the BJP.

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Poll Body Scraps Notice To Rahul Gandhi For Interview Before Gujarat Vote

Rahul Gandhi gave an interview just before the second phase of polling in Gujarat (File)


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Model Code of Conduct rules "require revisiting": election commission
  2. Rahul Gandhi had given interview to Gujarati channel day before polls
  3. Notice was sent after BJP complaint. Congress called them BJP's "puppets"
The notice against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, sent after he gave an interview to a television channel ahead of Thursday's polling in Gujarat, has been withdrawn by the Election Commission. The Commission said the parts of the Model Code of Conduct, which he had allegedly violated, "require revisiting" in view of the "multi-fold expansion of digital and electronic media". It also closed the cases against Gujarati channels for telecasting the interview with Mr Gandhi, who was expected to file his reply by 5 pm today.

The notice to Mr Gandhi had been sent after the BJP complained to the Commission, saying it was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, which lays down the dos and don'ts ahead of an election. But it drew a sharp response from the Congress, which said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were guilty of similar rule-breaking and demanded action against them. The party also issued strong comments against the Election Commission, accusing it of "sleeping on the job" and acting as a "puppet of the BJP government"

Late on Sunday evening, the Commission said on the basis of the Congress appeal, it has formed a panel to examine whether changes should be made to the model code.

The Model Code bars politicians from commenting about the election for 48 hours before polling. The media is also not allowed to broadcast anything related to the elections in that period.  But while rules only apply to campaigning from the area where an election is being held, the presence of broadcast and digital media enables one to address voters from anywhere in the world.

The Congress, however, said the Election Commission's move raises two questions. "Was it a mere ploy to prevent TV channels from showing his interview? And Is it a justification for no action or registration of an FIR against PM & Ministers?" senior party leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

The interview of Mr Gandhi, aired by a local television channel in Gujarat ahead of voting, had become a new flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP on Wednesday.

The BJP, which is seeking fifth straight term after ruling Gujarat for 22 years, said Mr Gandhi had "violated" the Model Code of Conduct out of "desperation". "The Congress is scared and Rahul Gandhi is desperate to save his face," Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters in Delhi.

Meeting election officials late in the evening, the Congress said the Prime Minister and Mr Shah have both violated the model code. PM Modi has given a speech at FICCI and Mr Shah gave an interview to a television channel on Wednesday. The party also alleged that Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and the Gujarat BJP chief were calling up television channels and threatening them.

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