Indian election commission allowing Modi to continue ‘brazen violations’: opposition

Congress party expresses dismay over lack of repercussions for wrongdoers within the governing party.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes a moment to wipe sweat during a vigorous campaign rally in Berhampur, Odisha, India, under the intense heat of May 6, 2024. — Reuters
  • Opposition denounces the continuing overt infractions.
  • The election authority’s role is to enforce adherence to party guidelines.
  • A letter details ten separate instances involving Modi and his associates.

NEW DELHI: The opposition in India has voiced their concern that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being allowed to persist in glaring and unchecked transgressions due to the Election Commission’s inaction on grievances raised about religious hate speech and misrepresentation.

As the Indian national elections progress past the midway mark of a six-week period — billed as the grandest democratic exercise globally — the opposition, spearheaded by the Congress party, has expressed in correspondence to the Election Commission that the absence of substantive action against those in power reflects a “complete abdication” of the commission’s responsibilities, emboldening such rule violations.

The commission is charged with the critical task of ensuring that political entities abstain from inciting divisiveness on religious, caste, or linguistic lines in the diverse nation of South Asia.

Throughout his quest for an unprecedented third term, Modi has squarely targeted Congress, alleging its favoritism towards the Muslim minority and negligence towards other marginalized communities.

Neither representatives of the commission nor those from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — which espouses Hindu nationalism — have commented on these charges.

Results of these pivotal elections, set within the highly populous country, are slated for release on June 4.

A directive was made earlier in the week to a social media company by the commission to remove a video uploaded by a BJP affiliate, which alleged that Congress aimed to prioritize welfare plans for Muslims to the detriment of tribal and Hindu lower-caste groups.

The commission has not passed judgment on such complaints but has asked BJP leader JP Nadda to elaborate on comments made by Modi on April 21, accusing Congress of a divisive redistribution of resources in favor of Muslims, whom he labeled as “infiltrators” and prolific breeders.

Facing accusations from the BJP, the Congress has also been issued a notice by the commission; the BJP claims having filed three complaints against them.

SY Qureshi, once the chief of the Election Commission, adds that this lag in addressing complaints tarnishes the commission’s credibility, thereby putting the integrity of the election process — and the legitimacy of Indian democracy — at risk.

The opposition’s letter cites ten contentious submissions they’ve made since April 6 against Modi and his close associates for allegedly engaging in “divisive,” “misleading,” and “inflammatory” rhetoric that could foster sectarian tension and distort Congress’ policies.

Congress official Abhishek Manu Singhvi voiced frustration with the lack of transparency and action from the commission after a consultation with its officials on Friday.

Expressing urgency, Singhvi remarked that failure to act swiftly equates to a grave neglect of constitutional duties in these crucial times.

A previous Election Commissioner, Ashok Lavasa, highlighted that the window for turning a complaint into a decision should ideally not exceed a few days, given the brevity of the campaign periods.

Leave a Comment