EC notice to Rahul over tv interview
Gandhinagar/New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi's interviews to Gujarati TV channels aired on Wednesday on the eve of final phase of the Assembly elections sparked a complaint by the BJP with the Election Commission which sought his explanation for "prima facie" violating the poll rules.
As the BJP and the Congress were locked in a war of words over the interview, the Election Commission issued a show cause notice to the Congress president-elect to explain by 5 pm on December 18 as to why action should not be taken against him. Counting of votes is due to be taken up on December 18.
The poll body in its 2-page order on Wednesday night also said it would decide the matter without any reference to him if he fails to respond to the notice.
In a press statement earlier, the EC said it had asked TV channels to "forthwith stop" airing interviews of Rahul Gandhi as they violated the election law and directed the Gujarat poll authorities to lodge FIRs against anyone for infringement of legal provisions.
It said Rahul Gandhi talked about the Gujarat assembly elections in which the polling for the second phase will be held on Thursday.
The notice said the display of his interview by channels falls within the definition of election matter under Section 126 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and display of such election matter within 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of the poll, amounts to a violation of the prohibition contained in Section 126 (1) (b) of the Act, 1951.
"...by giving such interview and its display on TV channels on December 13 you have, prima facie, violated the...provisions of para 1 (4) of the Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Election Commission's lawful instructions in this regard," it said.
The BJP in its complaint alleged that Rahul Gandhi has turned so "desperate" fearing defeat in the Gujarat polls that he "violated" the Model Code of Conduct to giving the media interviews. The Congress on its part accused Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and others of threatening journalists for airing Rahul Gandhi's interview and urged the Election Commission for action against them including registration of cases.