’Correct star campaigners’ discourses’: EC raps Congress and BJP, asks them to exercise restraint amid LS election

The Election Commission of India has asked both the Congress and the BJP to issue formal notes to star campaigners to correct their discourse, exercise care and maintain decorum.

Livemint
Updated22 May 2024
The Election Commission's letter comes in the wake of the plummeting quality of campaigning led by star campaigners.
The Election Commission’s letter comes in the wake of the plummeting quality of campaigning led by star campaigners.(HT_PRINT)

The Election Commission of India (EC) on Wednesday came down heavily on Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge to issue formal notes to star campaigners to correct their discourse, exercise care and maintain decorum.

The EC's letter to Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and BJP president JP Nadda comes in the wake of the plummeting quality of campaigning led by their star campaigners.

The poll body has directed star campaigners from both parties to avoid religious and communal overtones in their campaigns.

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The EC has directed the Congress to ensure that star campaigners do not make statements that give false impressions, such as suggesting that the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold.

“After such careful consideration and also in the context of the foregoing, the Commission, in totality of the material before it, as narrated above finds that the defence offered on alleged utterances, not tenable,” the EC said in separate letters to Nadda and Kharge.

In letters to both Congress and BJP chiefs, EC has made following observations:

 

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  • The utterances of the concerned Star campaigners follow patterns and create narratives which can be damaging beyond the MCC (Modal Code of Conduct) period. Technical loopholes or extreme interpretations of other political party's utterances cannot discharge them from this core responsibility of their own content which ought to be corrective to the ongoing discourse and not further plummeting the quality of campaign discourse.
  • Elections are a process when political parties not only contest to win, but also avail the opportunity to present themselves in their ideal best for the voting community to experience, emulate and build hopes on. The second part constitutes the more precious heritage of Indian elections and our electoral democracy and this should not be allowed to be weakened by anyone, including your party;
  • Elections are periodic exercises, they come and go, but political parties like yours endure; even more, preserve India's socio-cultural milieu;
  • Political parties are in the task of nurturing leaders for the country for present and future. They cannot afford to be lax in any manner in enforcing discipline and conduct among the cadre in the high-stake electoral space, especially with reference to senior members; It is expected of you to use the strength of your office and intra-party consultations to advise counsel/ oblige the listed star campaigners of your party be careful in their campaign utterances and correct their discourses;
  • The Commission expects to fully align the campaign methods to the practical aspects of the composite and sensitive fabric of India.
  • Accordingly, the Commission directs all concerned to follow the MCC in general and the following in particular:

    Also Read: 'Deeply regrettable': Congress raps EC's 'without facts' response to Mallikarjun Kharge's letter on voter turnout data
  • Directs all your star campaigners to refrain from making any statement which is prohibited in Clause (1) of General Conduct of the MCC, which provides that "No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic"; 
  •  Directs you as party president to also convey to all-star campaigners that they do not make statements which give false impression such as that the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold;
  • Directs to ensure full compliance with the advisory of the Commission dated 19.03.2019, which requires that "their campaigners/candidates should desist as part of the election campaigning from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of the Defence forces and not to make potentially divisive statements regarding socio-economic composition of Defence forces";

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  • Directs you to remain dutiful towards the special responsibility of Star Campaigners of the party and issue formal notes of caution to them to maintain decorum in their utterances.

The voting for Lok Sabha elections is being held in seven phases. The remaining two phases will be on May 25 and June 1, respectively. The results will be announced on June 4.

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