KERALA

BJP files petition against Navodhana Yatra

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 24. The BJP State unit has filed a petition before the Chief Electoral Officer alleging that the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, had violated the election model code of conduct by attending to official duties and misusing official machineries during his Navodhana Yatra across the State.

The petition, filed on behalf of the party by its general secretary, P. K. Krishnadas, pointed out that the Chief Minister had violated Section VII (1) (a) of the model code of conduct, which directs that Ministers shall not combine their official visit with electioneering and shall not make use of official machinery or personnel during election work.

The petition urged the Election Commission to either stop the yatra or take steps to ensure that the Chief Minister is not allowed to violate the model code. The petition said that various Government officials were accompanying the Chief Minister with relevant files. Official telephones were being used and the telephone charges for such calls were being borne by the Government and not by the Congress.

The Chief Minister had, with the intention of getting votes, announced relief measures to farmers and others while addressing election meetings during the Wayanad and Malappuram leg of his yatra. "The announcement is in violation of Section VII (vi) of the model code, which states Ministers and authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof...."

The Chief Minister, while in Malappuram, had openly criticised the functioning of another State Chief Minister, Narendra Modi of Gujarat, with the motive of inciting Muslim voters of Malappuram against Mr. Modi and the BJP. This was a blatant violation of Section I (3) relating to general conduct in the model code.

The petition alleged that Mr. Antony's use of Government vehicles also amounted to violation of the model code. It alleged that Mr. Antony was travelling in a vehicle registered for commercial goods and not a passenger transport. The vehicle was converted in gross violation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.

The petition pointed out that the UDF candidates were accompanying the Chief Minister in the same vehicle when he toured their respective constituencies. "The expenses of this yatra, therefore, have to be included in their respective statement of accounts. Otherwise, it would be a violation of the code in connection with submission of accounts.

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