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Election Watch: ‘In the poll match, BJP is playing offense but EC not playing defense’

PW Bureau

The letter speaks against the “misuse, abuse and blatant disregard” of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling party and the “weak-kneed conduct” of the EC New Delhi: In the run-up to the General Elections 2019, a group of 66 former bureaucrats have written an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, complaining about the “misuse, abuse and blatant disregard” of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling party and the “weak-kneed conduct” of the EC in failing to act against it. While asserting that they have no affiliations with any political party, the ex-bureaucrats said that the “independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency” of the EC is being compromised.

The names on the list

The list of signatories include former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, former foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, former IPS officer Julio Riberio, former Planning Commission secretary NC Saxena, former TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar, former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar, among 60 others. Copies of the letter have also been marked to the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.

Highlights of the letter

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a public announcement on March 27 on the successful launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon (ASAT). With respect to this, the letter said: “While the timing of the exercise is questionable, even more questionable is the fact that the announcement of the launch was made with much fanfare by the Prime Minister when propriety demanded that it should have been left to the officials of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at a time when the MCC was operative.”
  2. Pointing to the release of Modi’s biopic on April 11, the day when Lok Sabha elections 2019 start, the letter said that it “represents a backdoor effort to garner free publicity for a political person (and his party).”
  3. Referring to the 10-part web series Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, whose first five episodes can be streamed on Eros Now, the letter said that the EC did nothing apart from seeking more details.
  4. NaMo TV, a special service channel, also found a mention in the letter as ex-bureaucrats alleged that the EC acted with “lethargy” even though the channel was launched without any formal approval from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. They also pointed out that there is no option to delete the channel.
  5. Speaking about Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, the letter said that the comments made by him amounted to canvassing for a specific political party and that he should be removed from his post.
  6. On Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s reference to Indian Army as ‘Modi ki Sena,’ the former bureaucrats called for strongest action, saying, “This amounts to a deliberate attempt to mislead the general public, apart from damaging the tradition of the armed forces as apolitical formations.”
  7. The letter also mentioned a statement made by Modi during a poll campaign speech in Wardha, where he said, “The Congress insulted Hindus. People have decided to punish it in the election. Leaders of that party are now scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by the majority population. That is why they are forced to take refuge in places where the majority is a minority.”  And it said such divisive speeches violated the very first requirements laid down by the Model Code of Conduct.