The Election Commission's decision to order an FIR against BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Wednesday is the poll panel’s toughest action yet since the 16th Lok Sabha elections commenced on March 5.

The EC, so far, has taken action against several leaders for violation of the Model Code of Conduct, but no senior leader has been booked for violating the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Action against Mr. Modi was initiated by the commission for displaying his party’s symbol at a press interaction after he cast his vote for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

The directive followed demands by the Congress and other groups that Mr. Modi be disqualified for his alleged violation of several sections of the RP Act.

The Congress, in its petition to the EC, sought strict action against Mr. Modi for delivering speech in a fashion to canvas for the BJP, himself and also displayed the election symbol to the public while showing his finger for having cast his vote. The BJP, on its part, maintained that it would respect the decision of the commission, but asserted that its PM candidate did not violate the law.

There have been complaints about the campaign methods employed by Mr. Modi and the BJP on the days of polling in some or the other parts of the country. For instance, his decision to file his nomination papers for the Varanasi constituency accompanied by a mammoth crowd during the April 24 phase of voting was criticised by several parties. Likewise, on the day of the first phase of polling on April 7, the BJP chose to release its election manifesto.

The Congress, in its complaint to the EC, said, “It had been noticed in live news telecast on various news channels that Mr. Modi went to the polling station at Gandhinagar to cast his vote. And on his way out he was campaigning for the BJP and delivering speech in a fashion to canvas for the party, himself and also displayed the election symbol to the public while showing his finger for having cast his vote.”