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Congress Complaints to ECI on Modi’s Meditation Schedule during Silent Period

Congress Complaints to ECI on Modi’s Meditation Schedule during Silent Period

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NEW DELHI, May 29: A day before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to retreat to Kanniyakumari for meditation at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial on Thursday evening, the Congress on Wednesday approached the Election Commission of India saying that the PM’s move constitutes a “violation” of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and restrictions imposed on a candidate during the silent period.

A Congress delegation that included Abhishek Singhvi, Randeep Surjewala and Naseer Hussain argued that either Mr Modi should hold his meditation on June 1 after polling hours or there should be no media coverage of the event until voting is over.

On Thursday, PM Narendra Modi will reach Kanniyakumari for a three-day meditation break ahead of the Lok Sabha election results.  The retreat was a “tactic” by the Prime Minister to either keep campaigning or to “keep himself in the headlines,” Singhvi remarked.

“These are all ways to either campaign or get publicity for yourself through channels and publications. We have put two simple points before the EC. Either the Prime Minister starts this after 48 hours and can start his maun vrat [vow of silence] from the evening of June 1 or, if he insists, the EC should ensure that it is not telecast by visual media or published by the print media. He [Mr Modi] is a candidate himself in the last phase,” Mr Singhvi said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too said her party, the Trinamool Congress would complain to the ECI if the Prime Minister’s meditation was televised. “We will complain. He can meditate, but it cannot be aired on television,” Ms Banerjee said at an election rally at Jadavpur.

“Does anyone have to get cameras for doing meditation? It was a way of canvassing during the silent period between the end of campaign and the poll date,” she added, claiming that any publicity of the meditation would amount to violation of the MCC.

Besides the issue of Mr Modi’s meditation, the Congress also raised the issue of objectionable advertisements being issued by the BJP’s official X handle to incite enmity and hate among people, doctored videos of Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, and repeated divisive statements made at election rallies by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. “I have told the EC that unless you take stern action against him, he will be emboldened to make such statements even more,” Mr Singhvi said.

In 2019, too, Prime Minister Modi had visited the Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines ahead of the declaration of results of that year’s Lok Sabha elections, when he got elected to serve a second consecutive term. Campaigning for the seventh and last phase will end at 5pm on Thursday.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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