Flooded with complaints, the Election Commission has expressed anguish over “derogatory” and “inflammatory” statements made by “important” leaders of political parties and asked them to exercise restraint and observe the model code in letter and spirit.
The Commission said:
The electoral campaigns of political parties and candidates or prospective candidates have begun. As the dates of polling for various phases of the elections draw near, the campaign is gathering momentum and will soon reach a crescendo.
The Commission is pained to observe that many important leaders of political parties at the national and State levels are, in their election speeches at public meetings and rallies, making intemperate and derogatory remarks attacking the personal character or personal conduct of leaders and candidates of rival parties, or making highly provocative and inflammatory statements that have the effect of inciting communal hatred or ill-will, and aggravating the differences between different classes of citizens on grounds of religion, caste, community, etc.
The open distribution of money, justified in the name of local customs, is also most deplorable. Not merely does this violate the code, but it also amounts to the electoral offence of bribery under Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code and also a corrupt practice under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.