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Individual Politicians Accountable But Parties Have Prime Responsibility to Rein in Leaders: EC

In its "second suo motu report" on its enforcement of the model code of conduct, the EC also said it took action in 400 of ~425 major complaints it received and that it expected star campaigners not to vitiate the fabric of society in the coming phases.
Photo: PIB Twitter page.

New Delhi: In a report on its enforcement of the model code of conduct in the last two months, the Election Commission said on Tuesday (May 14) that while individual candidates will remain responsible for their speeches, it had decided to issue notices to party chiefs on a case-by-case basis in a bid to hold parties accountable.

“The commission has taken a view that while the individual star campaigner/leader/candidate would continue to remain responsible for speeches made, the commission will address party president/head of the political party, on case-to-case basis, as the parties have prime responsibility to rein in their star campaigners from committing such violations,” the EC said in its press release.

It continued: “The purpose is to raise the accountability of the political party in compliance of MCC [the model code] by all their cadres.”

The EC also said it “expects star campaigners, particularly of national parties, to lead by example in [the] next phases [of the general election] and not vitiate [the] delicate fabric of society”.

Last month, the Congress lodged a complaint with the EC against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in Rajasthan saying – falsely – that the Congress intended to distribute people’s wealth to Muslims.

The BJP had also complained against the Congress, saying party president Mallikarjun Kharge and MP Rahul Gandhi had made false claims in their speeches about various topics including the Ram temple and the Union government’s alleged withholding of funds to Karnataka.

When the commission issued notice in the cases, it did so to the two parties’ respective presidents.

It also did not identify any of the three leaders as allegedly violating the model code.

In its communique on Tuesday, which it describes as its “second suo motu [on its own initiative] report” on its enforcement of the model code, the EC said some complaints the Congress and the BJP lodged against each other for alleged model code violations were still pending resolution.

It added that it had received responses from both the Congress and the BJP on the notices it sent their presidents.

According to its press release, the Congress and the BJP filed 170 and 95 complaints respectively, while other parties filed 160 complaints.

It took action in 400 of the approximately 425 major complaints it received at the level of the commission or of the states’ chief electoral officers, the commission said.

It listed cases in which it had taken action in model code violations, including one where it barred Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K. Chandrashekar Rao from public campaigns due to derogatory remarks he made during a press conference.

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