Congress leader P Chidambaram today asked the Election Commission why it picked on the party’s president-elect Rahul Gandhi for giving media interviews while leaving out BJP leaders who did the same thing. In a series of tweets, Chidambaram accused the poll panel of sleeping on the job and also asked people in Gujarat to exercise their franchise and “change” the BJP government in the state. “Yesterday, PM made a speech. BJP’s President gave an interview. Railway Minister gave an interview. Why have all these escaped the EC’s attention? Why pick on only Mr Rahul Gandhi’s interview?” Chidambaram said. The former finance and home minister said the BJP petitioning the Election Commission is an act of “desperation”. An interview after the campaign ends is the norm for every candidate and every campaigner in every election, he said. “Allowing a roadshow of PM on voting day is a gross violation of code of conduct. It is an election campaign. What is the EC doing?” Chidambaram asked. The second and final phase of the Gujarat elections is being held today. The votes will be counted on December 18.
Accusing the Election Commission of “sleeping on the job”, he said the images on TV will leave no one in doubt that the BJP and PM conducted a full fledged campaign on polling day. “Shocking violation of Rules,” he said. Chidambaram also asked the media to stand up to “this unprecedented violation of the code of conduct” and condemn the poll panel for allowing this “gross abuse”. “Let the media look at the images on the TV screens, search its conscience and reach a conclusion. There has not been a more blatant violation of the code of conduct on polling day.”
Chidambaram added that Gujarat voters must ignore the “diversionary tactics” of BJP and focus on only one thing: “vote to change the government after 22 years”. “Don’t underestimate the power of your vote. Every vote can bring about change. To my fellow citizens of Gujarat: Every vote matters. Just go out and vote. Vote for a change of government after 22 years,” he tweeted. The Election Commission yesterday issued a show cause notice to Rahul Gandhi for “prima facie” violating the model code by giving interviews to Gujarati TV channels.
Gandhi was asked to reply by December 18, failing which it will decide the matter without any reference to him. The Congress has also petitioned the poll body for action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for addressing an event organised by an industry body on the eve of the final phase of the Gujarat polls where he attacked the main opposition party. The Congress claimed that no FIR was registered against BJP president Amit Shah and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for holding press conference in Ahmedabad and Delhi respectively.