Expect star campaigners to lead by example and not vitiate delicate fabric of society: EC

New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) The Election Commission on Tuesday said it expects star campaigners, particularly of the national parties, to lead by example in the remaining three phases of the Lok Sabha polls and not vitiate the delicate fabric of society.

The commission also said that it is “primarily” the responsibility of the leaders to “correct the course” of their statements or utterances in the remaining phases of the ongoing election.

The statement comes against the backdrop of the poll authority issuing show-cause notices to BJP president J P Nadda and Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on complaints of model code violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

“At the outset, Commission expects top leaders of political parties, especially of the major national parties, most of whom are star campaigners, to set good examples

of campaign discourse expected of them in the current elections,” the EC statement said.

It is primarily the leaders’ responsibility to correct the course of their statements “to avoid any permanent dent on the delicately balanced social fabric of the country”, the EC said.

Coming out with its second report on the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct since the March 16 announcement of the Lok Sabha election, the poll panel said it has disposed of over 90 per cent of complaints and no major complaint from parties was pending, except some by the Congress and the BJP.

“With about two months completed since the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect, campaign by various political parties and candidates at constituency level has largely remained violence free, less noisy, less cluttered and intrusive, free of inducement…,” the commission added.

It said nearly 425 major complaints — excluding canvassing-related or clarificatory complaints — have been filed by various political parties and candidates at the level of the EC and state chief electoral officers.

Of these, action has been taken (or matter disposed of) in 400 cases, it said.

“Approximately 170, 95 and 160 complaints were filed by Congress, BJP and others (other parties)respectively. Most of these complaints have been acted upon,” the EC said.

A few complaints filed by the Congress and the BJP against each other that are pending broadly fall under the genre of divisive statements by top star campaigners on communal, caste and regional language divide or on the sanctity of the Constitution, it said.

Response from both parties has been received and appropriate action on complaints and counter-complaints is under examination or consideration of the commission, the poll body noted.

The EC said that in the past, it had issued notices to individual leaders who had committed violations of the poll code.

Now, it has adopted a “new course” by urging the party leadership to ask their leaders, candidates and star campaigners not to make speeches which are in direct or indirect violation of the model code.

The Commission said it has taken a view that while the individual star campaigners and leaders would continue to remain responsible for speeches made, it will address party presidents on a case-to-case basis, as the parties have the prime responsibility to rein in their star campaigners from committing such violations.

It said peaceful voting in enthusiastic and festive spirit across the country till phase four, especially in Manipur, Tripura, Left Wing Extremism-affected areas, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, far-flung and inaccessible areas show the deep roots of democracy.

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