Nov 23 (The Street Press India) – The Election Commission (EC) sent Rahul Gandhi a notice on Thursday, asking him to explain his comments about PM Modi by Saturday. The comments included “panauti,” “pickpocket,” and “loan waiver for the super rich.”
The BJP filed a complaint with the election commission, stating that it was inappropriate for a senior leader like the former Congress president to use such language.
The EC reminded Gandhi that the Model Code of Conduct prohibits leaders from making unverified allegations against political rivals.
The Congress leader used those words while addressing the prime minister at recent rallies in poll-bound Rajasthan.
In its communication to the EC, the BJP emphasized that the claim of granting waivers of Rs 14,00,000 crore to industrialists over the last nine years was “not borne out on facts.”
The EC notice mentioned that the term “panauti” appears to fall under the prohibition of section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, which deals with corrupt practices.
The notice reminded Gandhi that Clause 2, sub-section (ii) of section 123 specifies that inducing belief in divine displeasure or spiritual censure constitutes interference with the free exercise of electoral rights for a candidate or elector.
The Congress leader aimed the “panauti” remark at Modi during a campaign speech in Rajasthan, referring to the prime minister’s presence at the World Cup cricket final that India lost to Australia after 10 consecutive wins in the tournament.
“PANAUTI” in Hindi slang loosely means someone who is believed to bring bad luck.
The former Congress president made the “pickpocket” remark about Modi in a recent campaign speech, accusing the prime minister of diverting attention while suggesting that industrialist Gautam Adani takes advantage. He likened it to how pickpockets operate.
The notice also reminded about a general advisory from the EC expressing concerns about the declining level of political discourse during election campaigns.
The commission informed Gandhi about a Supreme Court observation, highlighting that while Article 19(1)(a) protects freedom of speech and expression, Article 21 considers the right to reputation as integral to the right to life. Balancing these two rights is seen as a constitutional necessity.
The notice stated, “Accordingly, you are requested to provide your explanation on the allegation made and to show causes as to why action as deemed fit for alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct and relevant penal provisions is not initiated by the commission. Your reply, if any, be reached by 6.00 pm of November 25. If no reply is received by then, action deemed fit will be taken by the commission”.