Congress president Rahul Gandhi has told the EC that he did not violate the poll code when he claimed that the Narendra Modi government had enacted a new law that allowed tribals to be shot at.
In his 11-page reply, Rahul Gandhi also told the EC to be fair and non-discriminatory in dealing with complaints of poll code breach.
He replied in response to a show cause notice by the EC for the claim he made while addressing an election rally in Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh on April 23.
Rahul Gandhi told the poll panel that he had tried to summarise a proposed amendment to the Indian Forest Act in a simple language during his speech.
Rahul said his words, in Hindi, were used in a “free flow of a political speech” and there was no intention of “misleading, misrepresenting or stating false and non-existent facts”.
He claimed there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct by him during his speech and his criticism was confined to the policies and programmes and work of the Modi government.
The Congress chief said the complaint was lodged against him by the BJP only to distract him from campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections as he is the head of a political party and also its star campaigner.
Rahul Gandhi told the Election Commission that election is an “expression of popular will” and the “object of elections cannot be achieved” unless there is freedom of speech and the merits or demerits of a policy are exposed for people to judge.
Rahul Gandhi said the remarks made by him are part of present political rhetoric, confined to the BJP’s “anti-tribal policies” and urged the commission to dismiss the complaint against him not initiate further action in the matter.
The Congress president also provided a set of documents pertaining to the issue in question as evidence along with his reply.
BE FAIR, RAHUL TELLS Election commission
Rahul Gandhi also asked the poll body “to maintain a fair, non-discriminatory, non-arbitrary and balanced approach” besides ensuring a level playing field among leaders of national political parties.
Rahul cited a number of statements of BJP leaders including that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, made during campaigning, in which some “objectionable” words have been uttered and which have been decided by “unreasoned and cryptic orders” and that too after more than 40 days of the complaints.
Citing his speech in Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh on April 23, the poll panel had on May 1 issued the show-cause notice to Gandhi, highlighting a provision of the Model Code of Conduct that barred “unverified” allegations against political opponents.
Rahul Gandhi had alleged: “Narendra Modi government has made a new law for tribals in which there is a line that says tribals can be shot at… They snatch your land, take away your jungle and water and then say that tribals can be shot at.”
Two BJP workers had approached the EC with the complaint, following which a report was sought from MP poll authorities.