The South Asian Times

20 August 2019 16:57 PM

EC abdicated constitutional duty by campaign ban: Congress

By IANS

New Delhi, May 16: Terming the prohibition of campaigning in West Bengal a "dark spot on India's democracy", the Congress on Thursday accused the Election Commission (EC) of "completely abdicating" its constitutional duty" to ensure a level playing field and said the EC should submit before the people and answer for its conduct and actions.

Addressing the media here, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked if the EC has become a "helpless pawn" in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

"Every citizen is questioning the independence, impartiality, objectivity and fairness of the Election Commission today. Has EC become a mere helpless pawn in the hands of the Modi-Shah duo?

"As democracy is under attack from the ruling BJP, time for EC to submit before people of India, instead of being stifled by PM Modi and answer its action and conduct to people of India," he said.

The Congress leader said the EC prohibiting campaigning in West Bengal is a "dark spot on India's democracy and institutions of oversight like the EC".

In an unprecedented decision on Wednesday, the poll panel ordered that campaigning for the final round of the Lok Sabha polls on Sunday will end in West Bengal at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Surjewala noted that the order has been planned in such a way that Modi's rallies in the state were not affected.

"Election Commission has completely abdicated its constitutional duty under Article 324 to ensure level playing field, besides negating the due process under Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of India's Constitution," he said.

"This appears to be Election Commission's parting gift to Modi and the BJP, in order to ensure that the two pre-announced election rallies of Modi at Mathurapur and Dum Dum in the afternoon and evening today (Thursday) are not hit by the EC's order," Surjewala added.

He said that instead of punishing the goons and hooligans of the BJP led by party President Shah, "the Election Commission is punishing democracy, per se. It has created a fear psychosis by admitting EC's inability to hold a free and fair polls. The order of the EC is an unpardonable betrayal of the Constitution."

Surjewala also said the Congress, "as a responsible political party", has never cast unwarranted aspersions on the actions of constitutional bodies.

"But we are deeply saddened to say that Election Commission of India has completely lost its Independence and abdicated its constitutional integrity. "

The party also said that the "unchecked and brazen violence and arson by BJP" in West Bengal on Sunday deserved strict action against Shah.

Surjewala said the country has witnessed how, despite repeated complaints, the EC has not banned NaMo TV -- a propaganda machine of the BJP

"India also witnessed how the Prime Minister publicly mocked the EC about complaints being made to it as he violated every letter and word in the MCC (model code of conduct), everyday.

"The flagrant and ugly display of wealth by the ruling BJP drew no response from EC as a constitutional watchdog. Has the watchdog become subservient to the machinations of the ruling dispensation?" he asked.

He said the Congress party had filed over 11 complaints with the EC against Modi and Shah.

"Despite clear dissent in EC's ranks, and it being a clear cut case of brazen violation of the MCC, it meekly surrendered to the whims of Modi and Shah. Has the MCC now become a Modi Code of Misconduct to be applied to BJP's political opponents, with total immunity for PM and BJP President?" Surjewala wondered.

 

Update: 16 May, 2019

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