The poll commission has served a show cause notice on Karnataka PCC president DK Shivakumar for Congress’ political advertisement claiming a “40% commission (BJP) sarkara” in Karnataka and asked it to respond, with proof, in 24 hours.
In response, senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Singhvi took on the poll body, accusing it of acting selectively against the opposition and saying that it contributed “through action and inaction, to the emergence of an uneven playing field” in Karnataka.
Congress also attached a list of 11 examples where PM Modi, HM Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and UP CM Yogi Adityanath, among others, allegedly delivered false, defamatory, or hate-filled speeches during the political campaign in Karnataka, and for which the commission took neither issued show cause notices, not took any action, despite written complaints by Congress.
“Narendra Modi, in his campaign speeches has made widespread and outrightly false remarks against the INC for supporting terrorists, levelling a completely false allegation of 85% commission against the INC, and siphoning money for development. His colleagues have accused congress of supporting the PFI and threatened the state with communal riots….The statements are directly aimed at INC, where the charges are not only false but extremely dangerous…clearly designed to polarise the vote base and inflame passions to an obvious end….If ECI choses to ignore heinous and shocking instances of hate speech, direct and unconcealed religious invocations to seek votes, statements that are defamatory to an unprecedented level of malice, statements that are false, known to be false, and which are not just likely, but deliberately designed to prejudice the peaceful and fair conduct of elections, then it cannot adopt a different standard in a case where a genuine concern has been voiced by another party and which lacks all off the above elements,” Congress said, referring to its political ad alleging corruption in the BJP-led government.
The party added that when it complained to the EC against a similar political advertisement by BJP where it alleged Congress would divert funds sent for citizens, the accusation was dismissed by the poll body on grounds that such ads are not subject to the pre-certification process.
“…Far more serious, divisive, hate-filled, communal statements…have been made and are being made with impunity and without even a Show Cause Notice by the same ECI. In that sense, the contrast is sad, striking and makes for a completely non-level playing field, the mega-policeman of which is supposed to be the ECI,” Singhvi’s response said.
Congress also alleged violation by the EC of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which it argued provide a fundamental guarantee against arbitrariness in administrative action, bias, and violations of natural justice, and which provide the most vital guarantee of equality.
“The ECI can never allow itself to be seen as an organisation that on the one hand turns a Nelsonian blind eye to egregious violations by the ruling party and its high post holders, and on the other is seen as unfortunately tilting at windmills as far as the members in the opposition space are concerned, including the INC….Day in and day out, false and unsustainable allegations of corruption are made against the INC and its members by Modi, Shah and their colleagues in election speeches, campaigns and interviews and no question ever is asked, much less is proof sought. The contrast with the question put to the INC in the Show-Cause Notice under reply cannot be more extreme and shocking,” Congress said in its response.
It also said “diverse corrupt practises of the incumbent Karnataka government” were publicly discussed and debated.