Election Commission’s silence/ inaction/ delay in response encouraging political parties’ star campaigners to violate the MCC and Representation of People Act to the detriment of social cohesion

election commission of india

Shri Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner

Shri Gyanesh Kumar

Election Commissioner

Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu 

Election Commissioner

Dear Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, S/Shri Gyanesh Kumar/ Rajiv Kumar,

Kindly refer to my letters of 26th & 29th of April, 2024 (https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/notices-issued-by-the-election-commission-to-bjp-and-congress-toolittle-too-late-why-has-the-commission-ignored-other-serious-mcc-violations/https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/yet-another-prima-facie-violation-of-the-model-code-of-conduct-mcc-by-prime-minister-modi-inaction-by-the-commission-encouraging-star-campaigners-to-defy-the-mcc/) on how the Commission’s silence/ inaction/ delay in response to political parties’ star campaigners brazenly invoking religion for votes has encouraged them to make such statements again and again, in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), Sections 123/ 125 of the Representation of People Act (RPA), adversely affecting the integrity of elections and more importantly, at the cost of societal harmony and cohesion.

I may remind the Commission of its own MCC guidelines of March, 2019 (Para 2.2.2) which read as follows:

Meanwhile, the situation changed. Based on its experience of conductingelections in varied scenario, the Election Commission now maintainsthat bringing Model Code on the statute book would be a self-defeatingmeasure, because during elections, any violation of Model Code warrantsa quick decision and remedial measure, which may not be possible if thematters are taken to the courts and become the subject of examination ina regular judicial process. It is felt that any judicial pronouncement afterthe election is already over, would have little relevance, and the ElectionCommission has therefore withdrawn its proposal to give Model Codea statutory backing. The Election Commission has been repeatedlyreiterating its view that Model Code will lose its whole efficacy if all its provisions are converted into electoral offences or corrupt practices”

By its continuing inaction, the Commission seems to have confirmed the fears of its predecessors as expressed by them in the last sentence of the paragraph reproduced above. 

Since my last letter of 29th April, 2024, the star campaigners of BJP and other political parties, perhaps knowing well that the Commission would not respond effectively, continue to make statements invoking religion for votes, prima facie in violation of the MCC, which not only taint the electoral process but have long-term deleterious implications for social harmony.

I wonder whether the Commission, with its elaborate monitoring mechanisms funded by the tax-payers of this country, has come across an animated video circulated a couple of days ago by the BJP widely (https://m.thewire.in/article/communalism/animated-bjp-video-targetting-indian-muslims-goes-off-instagram/amp) targeting one community, openly defying the MCC, Sections 123/ 125 of the RPA and perhaps the penal provisions of the IPC (and its successor legislation) as well, which in effect could have serious long-term implications not only for the ensuing elections but also for communal harmony in general. One would have expected the Commission to have acted on its own, instead of political parties and citizens prompting it to act.

As I reminded in my letter of 26th April, 2024, of what I had pointed out in my earlier letter of 22nd March 2024, with reference to a statement reported to have been made by no other than Prime Minister Modi himself in which he openly invoked religion for votes, ostensibly in response to a statement said to have been made by a Congress’s star campaigner earlier. Had the Commission cared to give due importance to the sanctity of the MCC, it would have instituted a thorough investigation promptly into both the referred statements and acted in a decisive manner so as to deter senior political party leaders including the Prime Minister to wantonly violate the MCC. It is strange that the Commission chose to ignore my letter, in effect sending a loud and clear message to political parties of its inability to act, encouraging them to repeat making such statements again and again. 

That is exactly what followed thereafter. 

As mentioned in my letters, the Prime Minister himself once again made similar statements in quick succession thereafter, once in Assam and more recently in Hospet in Karnataka, in addition to his statements in Rajasthan and UP (Aligarh), on which the Commission has either not acted or acted belatedly, that too prompted by other political parties. Does it not create a public perception of the Commission’s unwillingness and self-imposed ineffectiveness to question a senior star campaigner like the Prime Minister?

I would cite yet another example of how the Commission, in violation of its own guidelines of March 2019 (cited above), has failed to take prompt action against several political parties for MCC violations. Shri K Chandrasekhar Rao of BRS party had evidently made a statement in Telangana on April 6th against a senior leader of another party for which the Commission is reported to have imposed a 48-hour ban on his campaigning, belatedly after a delay of 25 days (https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/ec-bans-brs-chief-kcr-from-campaigning-for-48-hurs-for-comments-against-congress/3474264/) While such a response in itself shows how action delayed on MCC violations has created a feeling that the Commission is not quite serious abount the importance of MCC, the case of Shri Chandrasekhar Rao represents more an exception than a rule as far as the Commission’s willingness to act. 

More recently, a star campaigner of a national party is reported to have invoked religion for votes in Chhattisgarh (https://www.news18.com/elections/mallikarjun-kharges-shiva-vs-ram-remark-in-chhattisgarh-stirs-row-bjp-leader-reacts-8873081.html). Has the Commission taken note of this?

One would expect the Commission to act impartially, with cent per cent political neutrality, without fear against all political parties and their star campaigners in an equitable manner, in such a way that the timely manner in which it acts and the deterrent penalties it imposes on those invoking religion for votes and those who are found to be guilty of other MCC violations and violations of the RPA and the IPC, discourage similar violations being committed in the coming days. The nation and its people cannot afford to have senior leaders of political parties making statements as they like during electioneering that tend to lead to communal disharmony. 

The Commission should feel committed exclusively to its mandate under Article 324 and remain accountable to all political parties alike and to the people at large. Otherwise, the Commission by its inaction would be hurting the public interest for a long time to come.

Kindly ponder over this without an hour’s delay and re-orient your role in line with your Constitutional mandate.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to the Government of India


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