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ECI double standard enables BJP leaders to violate poll code with impunity

Samajwadi Party leader Maria Alam Khan in a public rally on April 29 appealed to Muslim voters to practice ‘vote jihad’, saying that it was necessary in the present circumstances to…

The post ECI double standard enables BJP leaders to violate poll code with impunity appeared first on Alt News.

Samajwadi Party leader Maria Alam Khan in a public rally on April 29 appealed to Muslim voters to practice ‘vote jihad’, saying that it was necessary in the present circumstances to drive away the BJP government. Within 24 hours, a case was filed with Farukkhabad Police by Dr Manoj Kumar, the in-charge of a flying squad team (FST) formed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to “attend all model code of conduct violations and related complaints” among other assigned election-related duties.

Farukkhabad SP Vikas Kumar told the media that the leader had violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and an FIR had been registered against her under Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 125 of the Representation of People’s Act.

The swiftness of the action against Maria stands in stark contrast to the ECI’s seeming reluctance to act in case of similar violations by the BJP and its leaders. At the time of the writing of this article, five phases of polling have been completed and the poll code has been in place for about two months. Over this period, the BJP has repeatedly used religious tropes in its poll pitch and incited communal feelings — its official social media handles have shared such content and its leaders have openly made anti-Muslim remarks. The ECI has come under severe public criticism for failing to act timely, if at all, against these.

Alt News has already reported how the BJP has used the Ram Mandir to stoke religious sentiments while seeking votes, in complete violation of the MCC. Below are a few more instances:

T Raja Singh’s Hate Speech

BJP MLA from Telangana T Raja Singh, who features on the official list of campaigners for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, has a history of making hate speeches and communal statements. He was suspended from the party for nearly a year for his remarks on Prophet Muhammad. In a recent video clip, he can be seen attending a prepoll rally and singing on the mic: “Sun lo re sun lo, Pakistani Mullo… Bharat se bhagaane tumko tumhaare baap aaye hain”. He refers to Muslims as ‘Pakistani mullo’ and threatens to throw them out of India.

Sharing the hateful video, Right-Wing influencer Sunanda Roy 👑(@SaffronSunanda), praised the courage of the BJP MLA.

In another campaign rally, Raja Singh urged social media users to make at least one post per hour appealing to people to vote for the one who brought Ram. He said, “The one who built the grand temple in Mathura, we will make him win. The one who has implemented ‘Corridor’ in Kashi, the one who is determined to erase the taint in Kashi, we will make him win…”

He added, “Some say that they will commit ‘vote jihad’, several mulla maulvi gather in mosques and say that they won’t vote for Modi, they’ll vote for Congress. I want to ask my Muslim brothers why. This is the same Modi who has protected the dignity of your sisters and daughters by getting rid of ‘Triple Talaq’…”

In both instances, Raja Singh allegedly violated MCC guidelines by appealing to religious beliefs and in the first case, he also indulged in hateful intimidation. However, no action has yet been initiated against him.

Congress will Make You Wear Burqa, Give Permission to Mullahs for Cow-slaughter: Tejasvi Surya

BJP MP Tejasvi Surya recently addressed a youth convention at Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. In a speech that openly targeted Muslims, Surya referred to the death of Neha Hiremath in Hubbali who was allegedly stabbed to death by her former classmate Fayaz Khandunayak, and called it a case of ‘Love Jihad’, a Right Wing conspiracy theory which holds that Muslim men entrap Hindu women in order to coerce them into converting to Islam. Though the Union government and the National Commission for Women have said that they have no data on ‘Love Jihad’, the theory has been used in poll campaigns by the BJP to polarize voters.

Surya also told the the women present in the audience that the INDIA bloc and Congress will make them wear burqa. He also claimed that the Congress manifesto proposed the implementation of the Sharia law and Congress would give freedom to ‘mullas’ (Muslims) for cow slaughter.


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Rohingya Women Have 4 Kids on Each Side, 1 in Her Arms, 1 in Her Womb: Kapil Mishra

BJP leader Kapil Mishra addressed a gathering on May 11 in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Speaking in Hindi, Mishra stated: “There are two houses in one lane. One man has two kids and the other has 12 kids — Allah ki den (crowd laughs and claps). Now if the government says let’s converge their properties and distribute it to them equally, then tell me who will receive the property of the man with two children? (crowd responds saying that it will go to the man with 12 children)”. This is a reiteration of the statement made by the Prime Minister at Banswara, Rajasthan, where he referred to the Muslim community as ‘those who produced more kids’. Mishra also repeated the claim made by several BJP leaders that the Congress would distribute the wealth of non-Muslims to the Muslims. Alt News has already shown that there is no mention of wealth redistribution in the Congress manifesto.

Mishra further said: “Who are Rohingyas? Whenever you see a picture of a Rohingya woman you will see there are four kids on each side, one in her arms and the sixth inside her womb.” He added that the Opposition was hatching a conspiracy to take the money of those who went to schools and give it away to those who attended Madrasas.

This blatantly communal and hateful speech did not prompt any action from the poll body.

In January 2020, the EC imposed a 48-hour campaigning ban on Mishra, who was the BJP’s candidate from Model Town, following some controversial tweets.

Congress will Put Babri Lock on Ram Mandir: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Modi addressed an election rally in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, on May 7. In his speech, the Prime Minister listed a few reasons as to why he needed 400 seats. He stated: “…Modi needs 400 seats so that the Congress does not reimplement Article 370 on Kashmir. Modi needs 400 seats so that the Congress does not put a ‘Babri lock’ on the Ayodhya Ram Temple…“.

Alluding to the Congress-Muslim nexus that has been at the core of his poll pitch, he further said that Congress was so deep into appeasement that if possible they might even go on to say that it is their “vote bank” that had the first right to life. “Congress has mentioned in their manifesto that they shall make sure of a share for the minority communities even in government tenders. Congress shall provide a quota based on religion in contracting. They are also planning to prefer minority communities over others in sports, they will be deciding who will be selected for the cricket team on the basis of religion. I want to ask Congress today, if this was your intention all along why did you break apart the country into three parts in 1947? You should’ve declared the country as Pakistan back in 1947 and removed the existence of India.”

Readers should note that, in the Congress manifesto there is no mention of reservations based on religion.

Congress will Run Bulldozer on Ram Mandir: PM Modi

Addressing a crowd in UP’s Barabanki constituency on May 17, PM Modi claimed that Congress would overturn the SC verdict on Ram Temple. He said, “Here, SP leaders say that the Ram Temple is useless, they say this even on the occasion of Ram Navami. They make offensive comments. And Congress is preparing to overturn the Supreme Court verdict on Ram Temple… Some might question ‘How can this happen?’. Don’t be mistaken, when the country was going through its freedom struggle and the country’s partition was being suggested, every citizen disagreed with it but it did happen, didn’t it? They made it happen.”

The PM further claimed that SP or Congress, if elected to power, would run a bulldozer on the Ram Temple. He says, “If SP or Congress come to power, they will send Ram Lalla back to the tent and will run a bulldozer on the temple. Is this what you want to learn from Yogi ji? Take tuitions from Yogiji where to use the bulldozer and where not to”.

‘Vote Jihad’ or ‘Ram Rajya’?: PM Modi

Speaking at a pre-poll rally at Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, PM Modi referred to the ‘vote jihad’ comment made by Maria Khan and said, “Today India stands at a critical juncture of history. You have to decide whether vote jihad or Ram Rajya will prevail in India“. He further says, “In Pakistan, terrorists are threatening us with jihad against India. And here, Congress has also announced a ‘vote jihad’ against Modi, a particular religious community is being asked to vote against Modi… I want to ask you a question, will you answer? (crowd says yes in unison) Do you agree with vote jihad? Can something like this be allowed in a democracy? Does the Indian Constitution permit such jihad? (crowd says no in unison)”.

Babri Lock on Ram Mandir: Amit Shah

Addressing a rally in Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, Union home minister Amit Shah targeted the ‘Congress-Muslim nexus’ and reiterated the claim made by PM Modi that if elected to power, the Congress would put a ‘Babri lock’ on the Ayodhya Ram Temple.

It should also be noted that it was during the Congress regime with Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister that the Babri Masjid was unlocked in 1986.

INDIA Block Anti-Hindu, Anti-Ram, Anti-National: J P Nadda

In a public meeting in Ahmedabad on May 3, BJP national president J P Nadda called the INDIA bloc anti-Ram and anti-Hindu. He cited the affidavit that the Congress government submitted to the Supreme Court saying that there was no scientific proof of Ram. on several occasions, Nadda has criticised Congress saying that they seek votes based on religion and caste.

In the same address, Nadda also stated that the Congress manifesto reflected the Muslim league’s agenda.

Nadda repeated the same diatribe — calling the INIDA bloc anti-Ram and anti-Hindu — in a public meeting in Chhattisgarh on May 5. He went on to say that the Opposition was anti-national. These comments were clearly meant to incite religious sentiments which is marked as one of the ‘corrupt practices’ in Representation of the People Act, under which elections are held in India.

Animated Video Targeting Muslims

The official X (formerly Twitter) page of BJP Karnataka on May 4 shared a hateful animated video which depicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah feeding funds to Muslims and abandoning the SC/ST/OBC communities. This came in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders repeatedly making the false claim that the Congress manifesto proposed a wealth redistribution among Muslims.

Karnataka police filed an FIR against BJP leaders based on a complaint by the state Congress unit. Police also wrote to X on May 5, following ECI’s instruction, asking it to take down the hateful video, but the instruction was not followed. Subsequently, the ECI on May 7 wrote to X to take it down. The video was live for four days while polling took place in several constituencies of Karnataka. It was finally removed on May 8. It is unclear whether the platform decided to remove it or if it was taken down by @BJP4Karnataka.

The same video was also shared on BJP Karnataka’s Instagram page (@bjp4karnataka) on May 4. Alt News wrote to Meta about the hateful content in the video and five days later, on May 9, the video went off Instagram. The ECI website does not mention any action taken by the poll panel regarding the Instagram post.

The Karnataka police subsequently summoned BJP president J P Nadda and IT cell head Amit Malviya to join its probe into the hateful video within seven days.

At no point did the ECI pull up the BJP or write to them seeking a response on the hateful animated video.

What Action Can ECI Take in Case of MCC Violations?

Under Section 123 in the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a list of corrupt practices has been listed. The list includes: “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”

Section 8A of the Act mentions that a candidate found guilty of a corrupt practice might be looking at a disqualification for six years.

In cases of MCC violations, the ECI has several avenues for action, albeit with certain constraints. While the MCC doesn’t have legal enforceability, the ECI can resort to various measures to ensure compliance.

Initially, the ECI issues notices and warnings to parties and candidates violating the MCC. Additionally, paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols Reservation and Allotment Order, 1968, enables the ECI to suspend or withdraw recognition of a political party in the event of serious MCC violations. However, despite these options, legal and practical constraints limit the ECI’s ability to take strict punitive actions. In 2013, the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law, and justice recommended making the MCC legally binding and a part of the Representation of People Act, 1951, however, the ECI did not think that would lead to a productive election process. They argued that if every MCC violation is to be contested at the court then this might delay and prolong the elections.

Even with these limited number of options to take action, the ECI can rely on existing legal statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to pursue legal action against violators.

On May 11, several civil society organisations protested against the ECI for its inaction on MCC violations by PM Modi and criticised the poll body saying: “Grow a Spine or Resign”.

The post ECI double standard enables BJP leaders to violate poll code with impunity appeared first on Alt News.

This content originally appeared on Alt News and was authored by Oishani Bhattacharya.

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