The BJP said today that Congress leader P Chidambaram’s criticism of the Election Commission for not announcing Gujarat poll dates was part of the party’s ‘save Rahul’ campaign as it fears that a defeat in the election will stall his elevation to the post of party chief. BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao defended the Election Commission’s decision of not announcing the Gujarat poll dates with that of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election, saying the Model Code of Conduct is expected to be in force for not more than 45 days and the election in the western state was expected in December. Rao’s attack on the Congress came after Chidambaram took a swipe at the Election Commission (EC), saying it has authorised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce the date of Gujarat elections at his last rally. “Chidambaram seems to view the EC from his jaundiced eyes. Sonia Gandhi, as an extra-constitutional authority, had subverted institutions and remote-controlled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PM Modi is a quintessential democrat and does not interfere in the functioning of any institutions,” Rao said.
The Congress’ repeated attempts in raising questions about the EC is a desperate excuse and an alibi to shield Rahul Gandhi from the impact of an impending massive defeat in Gujarat, he alleged. “This is part of the ‘save Rahul’ campaign as his cronies fear that Gujarat defeat will stall his never-happening, elusive elevation as the party president,” Rao said.
Accusing the Congress of “rank opportunism” and “hypocrisy”, he said the same EC appeared neutral to the Congress when its decision favoured its senior leader Ahmed Patel’s election to the Rajya Sabha. The Election Commission, he said, needs to be complimented for not repeating the aberration in Gujarat election in 2012 when the duration of the code of conduct was an unusually and unreasonably high period of 83 days, he said.
“Whether that was a motivated decision, given the adversarial relationship between the then UPA and Gujarat government is a moot question,” he said.
In a series of tweets dripping with sarcasm, Chidambaram, the former finance and home minister, also claimed that the Election Commission will be “recalled” from its “extended holiday” after the Gujarat government has announced all “concessions and freebies”.