Congress president Rahul Gandhi has told the Election Commission (EC) that he did not violate the Model Code of Conduct and asked it to maintain a fair, non-discriminatory and non-arbitrary attitude in dealing with complaints.
The EC on May 1 had sent a show-cause notice to Gandhi for his speech in Madhya Pradesh’s Sahadol on April 23 in which he alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has made a new rule under which the tribals can be shot at.
Gandhi in response on Friday told the poll panel that 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”.
“The Model Code of Conduct should not be construed in an over-expansive manner against the letter and spirit of the brooding omnipresence of the Indian Constitution,” he said.
Claiming there was no violation of the poll code during his speech, the Congress president said he was targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies and programmes.
He said his remarks were part of a political speech criticizing BJP’s “anti-tribal policies”.
Gandhi also requested the poll panel to dismiss the complaint against him and not initiate further action.
He accused the BJP of filing the complaint only to distract him from campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections as he is the star campaigner of his party.
Gandhi said elections are an expression of popular will and the “object of elections cannot be achieved” unless freedom of speech is permitted and the merits or demerits of a policy are exposed for the people to judge.
He also cited a number of statements by BJP leaders, including Modi and party chief Amit Shah, in which some “objectionable” words were spoken while campaigning.