The Election Commission on Saturday gave a clean chit to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on the charges that he had violated the poll code by entering a polling booth in Amethi when voting was in progress on May 7.
It released an inquiry report by senior Commission officials in UP on the incident, which says that polling was not taking place when Mr. Gandhi was inside the booth as the machine had developed a snag.
The complaint was made by the BJP and other parties on the basis of photographs in a section of media showing Mr. Gandhi inside the enclosure of an EVM at a polling station in Amethi where he is a candidate.
The BJP had charged the EC with adopting "double standards" and wanted to know why no action was taken against Rahul Gandhi for entering the EVM area of polling booths in Amethi when suo moto action of registering an FIR was taken against Narendra Modi for addressing the press near a booth on April 30.
BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu had told journalists that the EC has not been acting in a "fair and neutral" manner as far as the party, particularly its prime ministerial candidate, are concerned.
"There is an FIR against Modi, FIR against (TDP leader) Chandrababu Naidu, but no FIR against the Congress leader... Because, the king can do no wrong, says an old saying," he told reporters sarcastically.
The episode involving Mr. Gandhi acquired another dimension after the EC defended the decision of the Varanasi Returning Officer to deny permission to a Modi rally on May 8 in the city.
In an interview to Karan Thapar on the Headlines Today, Election Commissioner H S Brahma on Friday admitted that the decision on the charges against Mr. Gandhi as well as refusal of permission for Modi’s rally should have been taken at the earliest and conveyed properly.
"We should not take more than 6 to 10 hours...we will decide on the issue (Rahul) by end of today," he had said, adding that people expect it to take quick decisions.
He was responding to a specific question on allegation by BJP that while EC ordered filing of FIR against Narendra Modi for violating electoral laws, it has not taken a decision on Rahul entering at least two polling booths in Amethi on May 7 despite a lapse of 48 hours.
In its report, the EC said that after receipt of the report of the Amethi District Returning Officer on the complaint against Rahul, it wanted the matter to be further verified by senior officers from the office of the UP Chief Electoral Officer.
The two Additional CEOs from his office, after their probe, concluded that Rahul visited the polling station at 10.15 a.m., when the “machine was not working and no poll was taking place.”
The report said that it was confirmed by Dainik Jagaran photographer Bhadauria who took the photograph, and further corroborated by polling agents of other political parties present in the polling stations.
“After Shri. Rahul Gandhi left, replacement EVM was received and polling commenced at 10.35 a.m. Under the above circumstances, no case of any violation is made out against Shri. Rahul Gandhi.”