New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) came down heavily over Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s remarks asking first-time voters at a Lok Sabha Elections 2019 rally in Maharashtra to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the air strike in Balakot, Pakistan, on Tuesday and has asked the chief electoral officer of the state to submit a report at the earliest.

Addressing a rally in Ausa in Latur district, PM Modi had said, “I want to tell the first-time voters: can your first vote be dedicated to the veer jawans (valiant soldiers) who carried out the air strike in Pakistan? Can your first vote be dedicated to the veer shaheed (brave martyrs) of Pulwama (terror attack)?”

The PM said the first-time voters should remember that their first vote is something which they will remember for the rest of their lives. “You will always remember to whom did you vote and in which election,” he added.

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The poll body has sought the report in the context of an advisory issued by it in March which asked the political parties to desist from indulging in political propaganda involving actions of the armed forces.

“…parties/candidates are advised that their campaigners/candidates should desist, as part of their election campaigning, from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of defence forces,” the advisory issued by the Commission on March 19 read.

Earlier, the CPI-M had written to the Election Commission against PM Modi, accusing him of violating the model code of conduct during his speech. “With deep anguish we are drawing your attention to the latest violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also violating the specific direction of the Election Commission to refrain from invoking the armed forces for seeking votes,” CPI-M politburo member Nilotpal Basu said in the letter.

Meanwhile, the Congress hit out at PM Modi and expressed displeasure over no step being taken by the poll body. Party spokesperson Kapil Sibal said there should be no politics in the name of our martyrs, but it is happening and the ‘sad part’ is that the Election Commission is also not doing anything about it.

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 are scheduled to be held in seven phases, beginning April 11. Maharashtra will vote on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The counting of votes will be conducted on May 23.

(Inputs from PTI)