A day after the Election Commission (EC) gave clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his “Mission Shakti” address, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Saturday dubbed it a “narrow interpretation” of his complaint and said Modi’s address to announce a feat achieved by scientists during the election campaign was a “gross misuse” of the office of Prime Minister.
Stating that since the EC has confined itself exclusively to the issue of “misuse of official media”, he requested the poll panel to direct the official media to treat speeches and statements made by leaders of recognised national parties in a similar manner as they treated the Prime Minister’s speech.
Yechury’s remarks came after the EC on Friday ruled that Modi’s address to the nation announcing the successful test of anti-satellite missile (A-SAT) did not violate the model code of conduct (MCC).
In a letter to Yechury, who had filed a complaint over the issue, the poll panel said that the committee headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena had found that the provision regarding misuse of official mass media was “not attracted” in the said case because neither the address was broadcast live by Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), nor it was directly given to them.
While Doordarshan said the Prime Minister’s message was telecast on DD News from the feed as provided by news agency ANI, AIR responded that the audio output of DD News was used for dissemination over its network.
“This, I wish to state, is a narrow interpretation of the complaint I had made. Since the EC has confined itself exclusively to the issue of ‘misuse of official media’, I would request the EC to direct the official media to treat speeches/ statements made by leaders of recognised national parties in a similar manner as they have treated this speech of the Prime Minister,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader wrote in his response to the poll panel.
He said the larger issue was the Prime Minister as a candidate in the ensuing election using the office of the Prime Minister for furthering electoral objectives.
“Soon after the speech, the Prime Minister is on record to claim that he is a ‘chowkidar’ not only on land and air but also in outer space. The Prime Minister and other leaders of the BJP are actively campaigning saying that this government has shown the guts which previous governments did not.
“What else does this mean but a gross misuse of the office of the Prime Minister for seeking electoral gains. An announcement of this nature is normally done by senior officers of the establishment like the DRDO Director. That the Prime Minister chose to announce it himself constitutes a gross violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” Yechury added.
Urging the EC to take cognizance of these aspects, the CPI-M leader said it was important in the interest of the health of Indian democracy.