Lok Sabha Election 2019

Election Commission order to curtail West Bengal campaign was timed to help Narendra Modi: Congress

It allowed Prime Minister to hold his two scheduled rallies in Bengal, says Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.

The Congress on Thursday accused the Election Commission of losing its credibility and independence and said the process of appointments to the poll panel needed a relook.

Addressing a press conference at the All India Congress Committee (AICC), Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned the EC ban on campaigning in West Bengal from 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Mr. Surjewala said the EC order was a “dark spot” on India’s democracy and asked if the model code of conduct (MCC) had now become the “Modi code of misconduct” as the EC’s time-frame allowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold his scheduled rallies in Mathurapur and Dum Dum in Bengal.

The Congress alleged that the Election Commission action was a “parting gift” to Mr. Modi.

“... Wasn’t EC’s order aimed at solely giving a free pass to the two public rallies of Narendra Modi being organised today [Thursday] afternoon and evening at Mathurapur and Dum Dum? Can there be a more glaring instance of EC being muzzled into submission by the ruling party?”he asked.

‘Dissent overlooked’

“The Election Commission has completely abdicated its Constitutional duty under Article 324 to ensure a level playing field, besides negating the due process under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution,” Mr. Surjewala said.

He said the Congress had filed over 11 complaints with the poll panel against Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah. Despite clear dissent in the Election Commission ranks and “clear-cut brazen violation of the MCC (model code of conduct), it meekly surrendered to the whims of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah”, he alleged.

Seeks fair appointment

“Time has come to review the process of appointment of the Election Commission. Should it only remain an appendage to the ruling dispensation or is it a constitutional body which is so intrinsically important to our democracy that its appointment requires to be mandated and tapered through a fair, transparent process like in many other cases?” he added.

In a first, the poll panel on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to end campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies at 10 p.m. on Thursday following clashes between BJP and Trinamool workers in Kolkata during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 10:31:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/election-commission-order-to-curtail-west-bengal-campaign-was-timed-to-help-narendra-modi-congress/article27152994.ece

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