The Election Commission on Sunday withdrew the show cause notice it had issued to Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The Election Commission had registered a show cause notice against the Congress Chief on December 13 for violating legal election provisions that prohibit display of matter related to elections 48 hours ahead of election. The central poll panel’s decision to act against the Congress Supremo and other news channels for airing an interview related to Gujarat elections was based on a complaint filed by the BJP. Rahul Gandhi had given interviews to news channels namely ABP Asmita Gujarati, VTV, GSTV, Zee 24hrs and a fifth channel a day before the second phase of Gujarat elections which was to take place on December 14. The BJP in its complaint had sought action from the central poll body against Rahul Gandhi and also asked EC to cancel license of the local news channels.
The EC had asked Rahul Gandhi to explain why action should not be taken against him for violating provisions of Model Code of Conduct and to reply by7 December 18 by 5 pm. The EC said that according to the reports they received the Rahul interview violated Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of People Act, 1951. The EC on December 13 said it has asked local Gujarati TV channels to “forthwith stop” airing interviews of Rahul as they violated the code of conduct and directed the Gujarat poll authorities to lodge FIR against anyone for breach of legal provisions. Rahul Gandhi’s attack on Narendra Modi during the interview made the BJP lash back at the party with senior BJP leader and union minister Piyush Goyal asking EC to take cognisance of the issue and act upon it.
Congress later retaliated by accusing the EC of being a BJP “puppet” and said that EC was being used as a “tool” for political gains. Randeep Surjewala termed the show cause as “discriminatory” and alleged that the EC had different yardsticks to measure the Model Code of Conduct. Congress cited Modi’s public meetings in Gujarat on December 9 which was the day for first phase which were telecast live as the voting was underway and also said that the PM had staged a ‘roadshow’ in the second phase of elections after voting in Sabarmati. The EC in the wake of burgeoning digital age and electronic media has set up a committee to re-evaluate the Model Code of Conduct and have asked the same to submit a report with appropriate changes that will fit in this digital age.