Is ECI 'subsidiary organisation' of BJP, asks Atishi on show-cause notice

The notice was issued to Atishi over her claims that the BJP approached her to either join the party or face arrest ED within a month

Atishi at the press conference (photo: PTI)
Atishi at the press conference (photo: PTI)


Delhi minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi lashed out at the Election Commission of India (ECI) after she was served a show-cause notice on Friday, asking if it was a "subsidiary organisation" of the BJP.

Speaking at a press conference in Delhi, Atishi said "questions were raised over the neutrality of the EC", whose responsibility was to remain non-partisan, provide a level-playing field to all political parties, and conduct free and fair elections.

The notice was issued to Atishi by the poll body over her claims that the BJP had approached her to either join the party or be prepared to be arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) within a month.

Atishi said the news of her being served a show-cause notice was flashed at 11.15 am on Friday, while she only received the notice via email at 11.45 am. "This means the news of the EC notice was first planted in the media by the BJP and then the EC served notice. I want to ask the Election Commission of the country, have you become a subsidiary organisation of the BJP?" she said.

The senior AAP leader said she would reply to the notice and remind the ECI of the neutrality and non-partisanship expected of it in conducting free and fair elections in the country, adding that the ECI has been given a very big responsibility by the Constitution to save democracy in the country.

Atishi said the present three election commissioners had predecessors like T.N. Seshan, and added, "You are running an Election Commission that is looked up to and praised by the whole world. No question is ever raised on the impartiality of elections in a country like India."

"I want to appeal to the EC not to bow down before the BJP and its Central government. The three election commissioners will be remembered by the country for 100 years for all the wrong reasons if they do not allow a level playing field and free and fair elections," she said.

In its notice, the ECI has asked Atishi to support with facts her statement that the BJP approached her to join the party. The BJP moved the poll commission on Thursday against Atishi's claim made in a press conference on 2 April.

The BJP lodged a complaint with the EC on 4 April, and the poll body issued the notice to her within hours, Atishi claimed, asking why no notices were sent to the Central agencies for their action against Opposition parties and leaders during elections.

"Was a notice issued to the ED when the agency arrested a sitting chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal), convener of a national party and prominent face of the opposition even after imposition of the model code of conduct for the elections?" she asked.

The Delhi government minister also asked the EC why it did not send notices to the income tax (I-T) department for freezing the bank accounts of the Congress, CPI, and CPI(M). "The BJP-led Central government is openly misusing the ED, CBI and I-T department ahead of the elections in front of the poll panel," she said.

The AAP leader also claimed that the ECI did not give the party appointments over issues related to the I-T department raid at the residence of party MLA Gulab Singh on 22 March. She also alleged that the EC has taken no action on its complaints on the sealing of the AAP office for four days by Delhi Police, and "objectionable" hoardings and posters of the BJP.

The EC changes chief secretaries, home secretaries and police chiefs in opposition party-ruled states before the elections, she said, but the poll panel did nothing when INDIA bloc leaders demanded changing directors of the ED, CBI, and I-T department as an interim measure during the polls, she said.

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva hit back at Atishi, saying she crossed "all limits of political and administrative decorum" by raising fingers on the "independence and fairness" of the ECI. "Her political conduct and repeated attacks on the Constitutional bodies clearly show that Atishi is a product of the school of Naxalism," he charged.

It would have been better had she, before reminding the election commissioners of Seshan, asked chief minister Kejriwal to follow the precedent of Madan Lal Khurana and resign after being arrested in the "liquor scam", he said. Khurana, the chief minister of the BJP-led Delhi government, stepped down over a controversy related to a hawala matter in 1996.

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