Lok Sabha Elections 2024: What Happened to Complaints Lodged with EC Against PM Modi in the Past?

The Mooknayak delved deeper into the complaints filed against him previously on the charges of MCC violation.
Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi made poverty communal remarks ahead of the second phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, cautioning “mothers” and “sisters” that their “gold” and even “mangalsutra” would be snatched and redistributed by the Congress among those who produce “more children” and “infiltrators” if the party is elected to power, several complaints were lodged with the Election Commission of India (ECI) for violation — citing the blatant violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

According to Section I(1) of the MCC, no party or candidate shall engage in any activities that could exacerbate already-existing divisions, foster animosity toward one another or exacerbate tensions between various castes and communities, whether they be linguistic or religious.

The poll watchdog initially chose to keep mum. When repeatedly asked about the objectionable comments, its spokesperson said, “We decline to comment.” Following at least 17 complaints by the Opposition Congress, the reluctant ECI cautiously issued a notice on April 25 to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda instead of PM Modi — who is the alleged violator in this case. The BJP has been ordered by the EC to reply to its notice by April 29.

It marks a notable change in the ECI’s handling of such complaints. This is the first occasion when it has served notice to a political party over alleged breaches of the MCC by its ‘star campaigner’.

The EC has previously issued general advice to parties; nevertheless, notice is provided to the individual rather than the party in the event that an MCC violation complaint is made against an individual.

The notice cited objections from the Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation as the reason for ECI’s action, without mentioning the prime minister.

So, is it the first time that the ECI is hesitating to take action against Prime Minister Modi? The Quint's Himanshi Dahiya delved deeper into the complaints filed against him previously on the charges of MCC violation.

The analysis of over 20 such complaints since 2019 wherein the prime minister has been accused of seeking votes in the name of religion, making remarks with communal overtones, using armed forces for electoral gains, utilizing government ministries to prepare speeches for his election rallies and breaching the silence period — which comes into force until 48 hours before the voting day.

Surprisingly, in none of these cases has the ECI taken any significant action till date.

Swift Action Against Opposition Leaders

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is also the president of the Shiv Sena (UBT), said on April 21 that the ECI had sent him a letter, asking him to take the phrases “Hindu” and “Jai Bhavani” out of the party’s new election anthem.

He defied the order, saying, “If the poll body takes action against us, they will have to tell us what they did when Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked people to say ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ and press the button on EVMs during his campaign for the Karnataka Assembly elections. And Amit Shah had told people voting for the BJP will bring them Ram Lalla darshan in Ayodhya at no cost.”

Prime Minister Modi had attacked the Congress earlier this year for including a promise in the party’s manifesto for the Karnataka elections to outlaw the right-wing group Bajrang Dal, comparing such a move to “locking up” Bajrangbali or Lord Hanuman.

On May 4, 2023, during the Karnataka Assembly election, the Congress had even filed a complaint against Modi for using Hanuman’s name.

“The Prime Minister in his address at public rallies spoke critically of the Congress party and in the melee attempted to portray the Congress party as anti-Hindu by taking the name of Lord Hanuman i.e. ‘Jai Bajrangbali’ only with the intention of soliciting votes for the BJP and urging people to not vote for the Congress,” the party stated in its complaint.

However, the ECI did not take any action.

On the contrary, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi received a show-cause notice from the ECI in November 2023 in response to his remarks against PM Modi that he was a “pickpocket”, “panauti” and “loan waiver for the super rich”.

Gandhi was reminded by the ECI in the notice that it is against the MCC for leaders to level unfounded accusations against political opponents.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also served notices for the remarks he made on social media that were deemed to be derogatory towards the prime minister. Prime Minister Modi and businessman Gautam Adani were featured in posts uploaded on AAP’s official account.

Senior Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was prohibited by the ECI from campaigning for 72 hours in 2019 because of the comments he made that were deemed to be against the MCC.

Addressing an election rally in Bihar’s Katihar district ahead of the Assembly election in the state, the former MP from Punjab had remarked, “I would like to warn you Muslim brothers, they are dividing you by bringing people like Owaisi (AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi).”

The ECI at a Glance

The ECI, as mandated by the Constitution, is in-charge of holding free and fair elections. The chief election commissioner (CEC) heads the poll body. He is assisted by two other election commissioners. Directors general, principal secretaries and secretaries support them.

So far, the President of India used to designate the CEC and the two ECs based on the advice of a selection committee comprising the prime minister, the chief justice of India (CJI) and the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

But the Modi government in December last year amended the Chief Election Commissioner and the Other Election Commissioners Act, 2023 and replaced the CJI with a Cabinet minister nominated by the prime minister in the three-member selection panel.

This statute was passed following an earlier ruling from the Supreme Court, directing that the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition (or the leader of the largest Opposition party in Parliament) and the CJI form a three-member committee to pick the CEC and the ECs.

According to Article 324(2) of the Indian Constitution, which states that the President “shall, subject to any law made in that behalf by the Parliament, be made by the President”, the CEC and ECs were previously nominated by the President.

Last But Not The Least

The then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning for his party at Uttar Pradesh Azamgarh in 2014, had said, “With great responsibility, accuse the Election Commission of India of being partial and biased.”

He had further alleged that the ECI had “completely failed” in the previous three elections.

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless