Ec notice to Nadda, not Modi!

Banswara ‘Hate Speech’

By Insaf

As Rajasthan goes to the polls among 13 States for 89 seats in the second phase of the 2024 battle, Banswara may go down in electoral history. Prime Minister Modi’s campaign speech in the city viewed as ‘malicious’, ‘divisive’, targeting a particular religious community, going  viral on social media, hitting headlines and editorials saying ‘No, Prime Minister’ et al, did get the Election Commission to break its silence, but its action remains hushed. Importantly, while it’s for the first time it took cognisance of a complaint against a Prime Minister for violating the MCC, it’s also a first when it changes the rules of the game. It doesn’t issue a notice to Modi but to BJP President Nadda, seeking his response by Monday. The so-called blow is softened as it simultaneously issues a notice to Congress President Kharge on complaint filed by BJP alleging violation by him and Rahul Gandhi, for ‘creating linguistic and cultural divide.’ While it justifies its directives saying the party Presidents must bring to the notice of all his party star campaigners to set high standards of political discourse and observe provisions of MCC in letter and spirit and that campaign speeches made by those holding high positions have more serious consequences, there are few takers. Of course, Congress has given it a thumbs down saying the step is reflective of the ‘inhibition’ and ‘fear’ on Nirvachan Sadan’s part to act against the PM.

Indeed, the Commission doesn’t name Modi, but its letter to Nadda contains the complaints filed by Congress, Left parties and civil society groups. So, the public needs to join the dots. What is of concern is a clear shift in EC’s standard response; it used to take up complaints against individuals, even ‘star campaigners’ and leaders. A former Election Commissioner is quoted to have said, the EC’s move is fraught. “If you issue a notice to a party for comments of a leader, how much of a room do you have to act against the leader?” And the next question would be if the party gives an unsatisfactory reply, what action will the Commission take against the party? The Opposition sees the EC’s stand as weak, taken under ‘public pressure’. But EC insists ‘it has taken a view that while individual star campaigners would continue to remain responsible for speeches made by them, the Commission will address party chiefs ‘on a case-to-case basis.’ Will it make BJP’s ‘star campaigner’ responsible, or let the dust settle down in the Banswara case? No need for a guessing game.

Delhi’s New Victim

Delhi’s ongoing political tussle in an outside Tihar jail has a new victim. Elections to MCD’s posts of mayor and deputy mayor, to be held on Friday stand deferred. Lt Governor V K Saxena in a letter to Chief Secretary a day before said “These are peculiar and unprecedented circumstances where the serving Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal) is under judicial custody as an undertrial prisoner involving a corruption case and therefore cannot discharge his constitutionally obligated functions.” The appointment of a ‘presiding officer, he added couldn’t be made in the absence of inputs from CM, who is lodged in Tihar Jail, ‘coupled with the factum that the minister is making wild and baseless allegations…’ Therefore, incumbent Mayor and Dy Mayor will continue to hold their positions till elections can be held in terms of legal provisions. AAP predictably says it’s at ‘BJP’s behest, which doesn’t want a Dalit mayor; the Centre was hatching a conspiracy to halt these polls and oust AAP from MCD.’ In fact, it may be more than meets the eye— a step towards the big question whether a CM can constitutionally continue to run the government from jail!

Surat Outcry

BJP’s Surat candidate Mukesh Dalal, being declared elected unopposed has raised a hornet’s nest. While the BJP sees it as first victory towards its goal of 400 plus seats, Congress and AAP who have an alliance in Gujarat have termed it as ‘match fixing’ The sequence of events are telling: Congress candidate’s  nomination is declared void as the four proposers names are said to be forged, the party’s ‘substitute’ candidate’s papers are invalidated and four  Independents, three from smaller parties and BSP candidate withdraw their nominations! “Our elections, our democracy, Ambedkar’s Constitution — all are under a generational threat,” said a livid Congress and complained to EC alleging it was done by exerting “wrong and undue influence”. It demanded the poll process in that seat be restarted. It’s partner, AAP which did not put up a candidate put its demand that EC register a case against Congress candidate: either he be booked on charges of forgery or his proposers be booked for giving false declaration on oath. This would help to get to the bottom of this electoral scam. Sooner the better.

WB Gets On Offensive

A belligerent West Bengal government takes pot shots at the judiciary. “Illegal, gross injustice, a ploy by the BJP…”, are words chosen by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in her reaction to the Calcutta High Court’s Monday order declaring ‘null and void’ all (25,753) appointments of teachers and non-teaching staff through State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in government-sponsored and aided schools, and directing them to return their salaries with interest as well as asking state School Service Commission to initiate a fresh recruitment process. The division bench, set up on Supreme Court’s instructions, also ordered CBI to further probe the appointment process and submit a report within 3 months. Recall, former state education minister Partha Chatterjee and some functionaries, were arrested by CBI for alleged anomalies in recruitment, wherein over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the test for 24,640 vacant posts. While the petitioners were thrilled, TMC leader Abhishek trashed the order saying “Just as we’ve heard of match-fixing in cricket, what is happening now is ‘fixing of orders’, a collaboration between a certain section of judiciary and BJP to inflict suffering on people…’ The government has petitioned the top court and even said it will continue to give wages to the staff till its verdict! Guess, TMC believes in the idiom: best defence is a good offense!

Voting Akin to Attending Wedding!

Turning polling day into something like attending a wedding is Haryana’s way, among others to enthuse voters. The idea is of state CEO whose office shall be sending out an ‘invitation’, designed like a wedding card, to every family urging the voter not to forget to cast his/her vote. The invites, 50-lakh odd, will also have a voter slip and guidelines and booth level officials will receive the voters. Other measures include: posters at schools wherein kids are given a pamphlet to encourage their parents, neighbours to vote and a link on its website for successful kids to later upload selfies with parents; an c-VIGIL mobile app to keep a close watch on MCC violations and voters complaints shall be resolved in 100 minutes; an app ‘Voters-in-Queue’, shall provide information about the queue at polling centres so that they can go to vote as the crowd thins out. Will the concept get 75% voter turnout instead of 70.36% five years ago? Well, the CEO, like the bride’s family, will be waiting anxiously on d-day, May 25 for the baratis!  — INFA