‘Be more cautious’: Election Commission warns Rahul Gandhi over his remarks against PM Modi

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued an advisory to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi over his comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his public utterances. The poll body’s statement came in the wake of his “panuti” (bad omen) and “pickpocket” jibes at PM Modi, sources told news agency PTI.

ECI said after considering all facts in the matter related to certain remarks against the Prime Minister, including Delhi High Court order and his reply, it has advised Gandhi to be more careful and cautious in the future.

In the advisory dated March 1, the Election Commission (EC) had warned that parties, candidates and star campaigners will face stern action, rather than just ‘moral censure’ for any violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

EC also noted that the star campaigners and candidates who have received notices in the past will face stern action for repeat violations of the model code.

Last year, the EC issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi after he used terms like “panauti” and “pickpocket” for the prime minister.

Gandhi took the “pickpocket” dig at Modi during his poll speech ahead of the Rajasthan election, alleging that Modi was diverting people’s attention while industrialist Gautam Adani was picking their pockets. 

Following the incident, the EC issued a show cause notice to Gandhi over his comments and sought a response.

The commission was also asked on December 21 by the Delhi High Court to decide on the notice it had issued to Gandhi for these comments, saying the statement made by the Congress leader during a speech delivered in November 2023 was “not in good taste”.

“After considering all facts in the matter related to remarks such as ‘jebkatra’ (pickpocket) and ‘pannauti’, including the court order and Gandhi’s reply, the Election Commission has advised Gandhi to be more careful and cautious in future,” a source told PTI.

In its show cause notice to Gandhi, EC noted that the term “panauti” ex-facie is prohibited under section 123(2) (dealing with corrupt practices) of the Representation of People Act. It also cited the model code of conduct, under which parties and candidates must avoid criticism of other parties or their workers “based on unverified allegations or distortion”.

“Whereas, a complaint has been received from the BJP (copy enclosed) alleging that you, on 22nd November 2023 in a public meeting at Bayatu, District Barmer, Rajasthan made wild allegations and spoke in a derisive and obnoxious manner about the Prime Minister. It is alleged that comparing a PM to a ‘Jaibkatra’ (pickpocket) and using the word ‘Panauti’ is unbecoming of a very senior leader of a National Political Party,” the November 2023 notice read.


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