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Congress shifts political battles to judicial turf after Narendra Modi counter to 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' jibe unsettles Rahul Gandhi's outfit

During elections, tall claims are made by political leaders and opponents are targeted with statements that are made "in a rhetoric flourish”. The battle of words is fought on dusty grounds, amid political chants and sloganeering. Occasionally these electoral fights are taken to courts for adjudication.

However, this general election is witnessing a departure from this rule as political street fights— which are much obvious outcome of election campaigns—are being taken for judicial intervention, with a frequency that it is becoming a routine laden with boredom.

 Congress shifts political battles to judicial turf after Narendra Modi counter to Chowkidar Chor Hai jibe unsettles Rahul Gandhis outfit

File images of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. AFP/Reuters

The catalyst of this shift is the Congress.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court disposed of the petition filed by Congress MP Sushmita Dev against the alleged inaction by Election Commission in relation to an alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah.

Following Dev’s plea (filed on 29 April) the Supreme Court directed Election Commission to decide on the complaints of violation of MCC by Modi and Shah. After going through the complaints, the Election Commission gave clean chit to Modi and Shah.

However, dissatisfied with the Election Commission’s decision Dev filed another affidavit challenging Election Commission’s decision on the ground of discrimination and arbitrariness. The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to acknowledge the additional affidavit filed by Dev for getting into the merits of the decision made by Election Commission although it allowed Dev to file a fresh petition challenging the Election Commission's decision.

Ever since the campaign for Lok Sabha elections has kicked off, Congress has been crying foul and approaching Election Commission alleging the violation of MCC by various BJP leaders.

Congress has now filed a fresh complaint with the Election Commission seeking action against Modi (including a ban on his campaigning) for his remarks against former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Modi, while addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh last week, had said that the life of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had ended as "bhrashtachari number 1” (corrupt number 1).

Congress objected to the remark made by Modi as “derogatory and false”. To buttress its stand, Congress also pointed out that the Delhi High Court gave a clean chit to Rajiv in the Bofors case in 2004.

The assertion made by Congress raises only one question. Does it truly believe that facts can matter in different ways for them in comparison to others? Congress party’s entire Lok Sabha campaign was based on targeting Modi on alleged irregularities in Rafale deal.

Congress' “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe targeting Modi reached to a level where its president Rahul Gandhi could not differentiate facts from fictional rhetoric to the level that he attributed the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe to the Supreme Court.

Rahul on more than one occasion claimed that Supreme Court in the Rafale judgment had concluded that “Chowkidar Chor Hai” to mean that Supreme Court had found Modi guilty of corruption.

“Chowkidar Chor Hai” campaign by Congress went on for months and it was only after Rahul attributed this jibe to Supreme Court that BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed a contempt petition on the Supreme Court. It was under the fear of facing the ire of judiciary that Rahul first expressed ‘regret’ and when not able to convince the apex court that ‘regret’ means ‘apology’ expressed unconditional apology.

On Wednesday, Rahul while rendering “unconditional apology” requested the apex court to close the contempt proceedings.

However, Rahul’s apology has not dissuaded him or his party members from using his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe in political campaigns. It is perplexing that the same Congress that has rested its entire campaign on some unsubstantiated allegations against his prime opponent is crying foul when one of his leaders is targeted for the same.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Rahul said that he attributed the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe to Supreme Court in “a rhetorical flourish in the heat of the moment”. He also said that “did not have the slightest or remotest intention, desire or even thought process, to bring the court into the political arena”.

But his party is not shying from dragging every political attack by its opponent to the “court arena”.

The Congress president has not refrained from using twisted facts to score political mileage. Addressing a rally in Bhopal, Rahul said, “Narendra Modi Sarkar ne ek kanun banaya hai jisme ek line likhi gayi hai ki adivasiyon ko goli se mara ja sakega." (Narendra Modi government has passed a law in which one line allows the shooting of tribals).

As reported by Firstpost, Rahul was referring to the draft of the Indian Forest Act, 2019, which proposes an overhaul of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The draft law proposes providing indemnity to forest officers using arms to prevent offences. This is in addition to the immunity provided under Section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for certain categories of public servants.

Whether intentionally or not, Rahul has been not only making statements in "rhetorical flourish" but also in complete disregard of facts. However, when faced with the mildest of insinuations, which is part of political campaigns, Congress is approaching the Election Commission and the court. By doing so it is forgetting that election battles are fought on ground, not in courtrooms.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 16:43:35 IST