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PM's speech in Maha doesn't violate model code, says ECI

PMs speech in Maha doesnt violate model code, says ECI
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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at Maharashtra's Wardha, where he accused the Congress of insulting the Hindus through its party chief Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Kerala's Wayanad, does not violate the Model Code, the Election Commission said on Tuesday.

This is the first time the Commission took a call on the several complaints pending against the Prime Minister.

In his speech on April 1 from Maharashtra's Wardha, the Prime Minister had accused the Congress of insulting the Hindus.

"Leaders of that party are now scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by majority (Hindu) population. That is why they are forced to take refuge in places where the majority is in a minority," PM Modi had said.

The Congress had contended that the comments were "hateful and divisive".

The Commission said after examining the Prime Minister's speech at Maharashtra's Wardha in accordance with the Model Code guidelines, it was of the view that "in this matter no such violation has been noticed".

Earlier on Tuesday, the Commission got a notice from the Supreme Court over a petition that accused it of "inaction" regarding complaints against PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Several complaints are pending in the commission that accuses them of delivering hate speeches and using armed forces for "political propaganda".

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear the case next on Thursday. The Congress had said that even though the complaints have been pending for three weeks, the Commission has not responded.

On Monday, the Commission had said it was examining the complaints against the Prime Minister and was likely to take a call on the matter on Tuesday.

After being pulled up by the Supreme Court earlier this month over allegations of inaction in cases of Model Code violation, the Commission had handed penalties to several leaders.

The list includes Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Maneka Gandhi, Mayawati and Congress's Navjot Sidhu, who were temporarily banned from campaigning. On Tuesday, Samajwadi leader Azam Khan was banned for a second time.

Several other complaints against PM Modi are pending with the Election Commission. He has been accused of violating the Commission's ban on citing the armed forces during campaign speeches. He has referred to the Pulwama, Balakot air strikes and the armed forces during campaign more than once. Another pending complaint is linked to his mini roadshow and speech in Gujarat's Ahmedabad, when he went there to vote last week.

BJP chief Amit Shah for dubbing the armed forces "Modi ji ki sena"- a remark that army officers had objected to and wrote to the Defence Ministry.

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