Expect star campaigners to lead by example, not vitiate social fabric: ECI

Statement comes against backdrop of ECI issuing notices to respective party presidents on complaints against Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi

Voters in queue during the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in Berhampur, Odisha (photo: PTI)
Voters in queue during the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in Berhampur, Odisha (photo: PTI)


The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday said it expects star campaigners, particularly of the national parties, to lead by example in the remaining three phases of the Lok Sabha polls and not vitiate the delicate fabric of society.

The commission also said it is "primarily" the responsibility of the leaders to "correct the course" of their statements or utterances in the remaining phases of the ongoing election.

The statement comes against the backdrop of the poll authority issuing show-cause notices to BJP president J.P. Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on complaints of model code of conduct (MCC) violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

"At the outset, the Commission expects top leaders of political parties, especially of the major national parties, most of whom are star campaigners, to set good examples of campaign discourse expected of them in the current elections," the ECI statement said.

It is primarily the leaders' responsibility to correct the course of their statements "to avoid any permanent dent on the delicately balanced social fabric of the country", the ECI said.

Coming out with its second report on the enforcement of the MCC since the 16 March announcement of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the poll panel said it has disposed of over 90 per cent of complaints and no major complaint from parties was pending, except some from the Congress and the BJP.

"With about two months completed since the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect, campaign by various political parties and candidates at constituency level has largely remained violence free, less noisy, less cluttered and intrusive, free of inducement...," the commission added.

It said nearly 425 major complaints — excluding canvassing-related or clarificatory complaints — have been filed by various political parties and candidates at the level of the ECI and state chief electoral officers.

Of these, action has been taken (or matter disposed of) in 400 cases, it said. "Approximately 170, 95 and 160 complaints were filed by Congress, BJP and others (other parties) respectively. Most of these complaints have been acted upon," the ECI said.

A few complaints filed by the Congress and the BJP against each other that are pending broadly fall under the genre of divisive statements by star campaigners on communal, caste and regional language divides or on the sanctity of the Constitution, it said.

The response from both parties has been received and appropriate action on complaints and counter-complaints is under examination or consideration of the commission, the poll body noted.

The ECI said in the past, it had issued notices to individual leaders who had committed violations of the poll code. Now, it has adopted a "new course" by urging the party leadership to ask their leaders, candidates and star campaigners not to make speeches which are in direct or indirect violation of the model code.

The commission said it has taken a view that while individual star campaigners and leaders would continue to remain responsible for speeches made, it will address party presidents on a case-to-case basis, as the parties have the prime responsibility to rein in their star campaigners from committing such violations.

It said peaceful voting in an "enthusiastic and festive spirit" across the country until phase four, especially in Manipur, Tripura, "left wing extremism-affected areas", West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, and far-flung and inaccessible areas shows the deep roots of democracy.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines