EC issues show-cause notice to Rahul Gandhi for 'panauti', 'pickpocket' remarks against PM Modi

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Thursday issued a notice to top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a ‘jaib katra' (pick-pocket) and ‘panauti' (bad omen), asking him to explain within two days how his comments are not in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The action came following a complaint filed by the BJP against Rahul for his November 22 speech in Bayatu in Rajasthan's Barmer, claiming that such remarks were "unbecoming of a very senior leader of a national political party". In his speech, he had referred to how pick-pockets divert attention and had compared the same to Modi's presence during India's World Cup final match against Australia in Ahmedabad.

"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 MCC and relevant penal provisions is not initiated by the Commission," the notice said. It set a deadline of 6 pm on November 25 for Rahul's reply.

Referring to the complaint, the EC said the BJP noted that Rahul's allegation of grant of waivers of Rs 14 lakh crore in the past nine years was not borne out on facts. The BJP also said his remarks were in violation of various provisions of the Representation of People's Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Model Code of Conduct.

In the notice, the EC recalled that in May this year it had expressed concerns at the "plummeting level of political discourse" in the campaigning period while advising all to operate within the confines of the MCC and within the limits of expected decency in public discourse. It also referred to the Supreme Court and High Court judgements that spoke about reasonable restrictions on free speech.

On Wednesday, the EC had issued a separate notice to Rajasthan Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra on charges of "camouflaging" political advertisements in newspapers as news reports or political predictions and "distorting" the level playing field by "creating confusion in the minds of the electors".

Earlier, the EC had issued two separate notices to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is also Rahul's sister, for her criticism of Modi during campaign speeches in Rajasthan.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma also received a notice following complaints about him making communal remarks against a Congress candidate in Chhattisgarh.

AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too received a notice for his comments against Modi while Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva was show-caused for his remarks against Kejriwal.



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