Reply to EC’s Letter
SITARAM Yechury, general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has written a reply to the letter from the chief election commissioner, Election Commission of India on March 30, on the issue of Prime Minister’s address to the nation. A letter dated March 29, 2019 signed by the principal secretary, Election Commission of India, was received by Yechury regarding the complaint he had made of the prime minister’s address to the nation as being violative of the model code of conduct.
The ECI has accepted the findings of a Commission constituted by it to examine this issue. It has reproduced the relevant para of the report:
“The Committee has, therefore, reached the conclusion that the MCC provision regarding misuse of official mass media as contained in Para (IV) of Part (VII) of Model Code of Conduct, quoted above, is not attracted in the instant case.”
Yechury stated that this is a narrow interpretation of the complaint he had made. Since the ECI has confined itself exclusively to the issue of “misuse of official media” he requested the ECI to direct the official media to treat speeches/statements made by leaders of recognised national parties in a similar manner as they have treated this speech of the prime minister.
The larger issue is that the prime minister as a candidate in the ensuing elections is using the office of the prime minister to convey a development achieved by our scientists during the election campaign. This constitutes a gross misuse of the office for furthering electoral objectives.
Soon after the speech, the prime minister is on record to claim that he is a chowkidar not only on land and air but also in outer space. The prime minister and other leaders of the BJP are actively campaigning saying that this government has shown the guts which previous governments did not. “What else does this mean but a gross misuse of the office of the prime minister for seeking electoral gains? An announcement of this nature is normally done by senior officers of the establishment like the director DRDO. That the prime minister chose to announce it himself constitutes a gross violation of the model code of conduct. It is a gross misuse of the office of the prime minister for partisan ends,” he said.
He requested the ECI to take cognizance of this aspect as well. The ECI is constitutionally mandated under Article 324 to conduct a free and fair election to ensure level playing field for all contestants. He hoped the ECI, in the interests of the health of Indian democracy, will seriously consider this aspect.