“Election Body Warns Major Parties: No Weakening Allowed”

Following the completion of five phases of the Lok Sabha election, the Election Commission issued strong statements against both the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress regarding the campaign speeches of their prominent leaders. This action was taken after both parties lodged complaints against each other, specifically highlighting speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. In separate directives to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the Election Commission emphasized that the country’s socio-cultural fabric should not suffer as a consequence of election activities. The Commission underscored that while elections are an opportunity for political parties to showcase themselves positively to voters, it is imperative to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and not allow it to be compromised by any party’s actions.

In individual communications addressed to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the Election Commission emphasized that the nation’s socio-cultural environment should not suffer due to the electoral process. The Commission highlighted that elections provide a platform for political parties not only to compete for victory but also to showcase their best attributes to the electorate, fostering hope and inspiration. It stressed that this aspect forms a crucial heritage of Indian elections and democratic principles, which must be safeguarded from any form of weakening, including actions taken by the respective parties.

The Election Commission emphasized the enduring nature of political parties amidst the periodicity of elections, underscoring their responsibility in nurturing leaders for both the present and future of the nation. Stressing the crucial role of maintaining discipline and conduct within their ranks, particularly among senior members, the Commission warned against any laxity, especially in the high-stakes electoral arena. Both the BJP and Congress had previously approached the Election Commission with complaints against each other’s leaders, prompting the Commission to issue notices and solicit responses on the allegations. In its recent directives, the Commission rejected their defenses.

Addressing BJP president Mr. Nadda, the Commission highlighted the expectation for the ruling party to align its campaign methods with the diverse and sensitive fabric of India. It directed the BJP to ensure that all star campaigners refrain from making statements prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct, emphasizing rules against activities that could exacerbate existing differences or incite tension among various social groups. The BJP was instructed to guide all star campaigners to avoid speeches and statements that could divide society or propagate communal sentiments, stressing the importance of maintaining decorum in their campaign rhetoric.

In its communication to Mr. Kharge, the Election Commission stressed the importance of the Congress aligning its campaign methods with the diverse and sensitive nature of India’s social fabric. The Commission directed the Congress chief to ensure that the party’s star campaigners adhere to the rules outlined in the Model Code of Conduct, particularly regarding statements prohibited under the General Conduct rules.

Mr. Kharge was further instructed to advise Congress star campaigners against engaging in political propaganda related to the activities of the Defence forces, and to refrain from making potentially divisive statements concerning the socio-economic composition of the Defence forces. Additionally, he was tasked with ensuring that star campaigners avoid making statements that could create false impressions, such as suggesting the abolition or sale of the Constitution of India.

Previously, the Congress had approached the Election Commission regarding Prime Minister Modi’s allegations that the opposition party aimed to redistribute wealth among Muslims and would not spare married women’s ‘mangalsutra’.

The BJP brought to the attention of the Election Commission a speech by Rahul Gandhi wherein he claimed that the Prime Minister was advocating for a unified nation with a single language and religion.

Following the complaints, the Election Commission issued notices to Mr. Nadda and Mr. Kharge, holding party leaders accountable for speeches made by star campaigners. Notably, the notices did not specifically name Prime Minister Modi or Mr. Gandhi. Similarly, in today’s directives, no leader’s name was mentioned.

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