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6:22 am - Friday April 27, 2018

EC withdraws notice to Rahul

Agencies, New Delhi

Hours before the counting of votes is taken up for keenly contested Gujarat polls, the Election Commission on Sunday night withdrew the showcause notice served to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and said the poll panel in consultation with political parties is open to modifications in existing laws on the same.

“The Commission is of the considered view that due to multi-fold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations,” the poll panel said in identical letters, written to both Congress and BJP.

It said the election body would soon deliberate on the above subjects and consult political parties, media and other stake holders to seek “suggestions for necessary modification in the extant provisions”.

Accordingly, the EC will set up a committee with specific terms of reference soon, it added. The poll panel said that the decision has been taken on these lines by the EC after taking cognisance of the complaint from the Congress on December 13 – a day before the second phase polling.

The Congress held noisy protest in Delhi outside the EC main office premises on December 14 and had charged the constitutional body with being partisan.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala had gone to the extent of calling the poll panel a “captive puppet” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and wanted action against BJP leaders and Union Ministers, including Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goyal for their media interactions and statements.

The EC had earlier also ordered lodging of FIRs against TV channels for airing the interview of Rahul Gandhi, a day after poll campaign for the second phase of polling had ended.

“The pointwise report of CEO, Gujarat was obtained over Representation (from Congress) and the legal examination on the matter was done,” the EC said.

It further said —- as regard the complaint from Congress on BJP releasing the manifesto late – under the existing provisions of law “there is no time limit prescribed in the Model Code of Conduct to release the manifesto by the political patties”.

In their separate but almost identical letters, the poll panel have advised both the BJP and the Congress “not to make any mention of any election matter pertaining to area going for poll during the prohibited period of 48 hours, henceforth”.

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