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Poll officer dissented in EC decision to give clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah

On Saturday the Election Commission Saturday gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his Patan speech in which he claimed that his government had kept Pakistan on toes for safe release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. The commission concluded that Modi has not violated the model code or its advisory on armed forces in his speech in Gujarat's Patan city on 21 April. This is the sixth speech of the prime minister which has been cleared by the EC.

One of the two election commissioners gave a dissenting view in the decision of the 'full Election Commission' to give a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the two speeches made in Maharashtra last month, highly-placed sources aware of the development said on Friday.

 Poll officer dissented in EC decision to give clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. PTI

The 'full commission', which takes such decisions, comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. In the past three days, the commission gave its decision on as many complaints by the Congress against the prime minister, alleging violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

One of the election commissioners, according to the sources, gave a dissenting view in EC's decision to give clean chit to the prime minister on his speech at Wardha on 1 April where he attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for contesting from minority-dominated Wayanad seat and his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot air strikes and the Pulwama martyrs in Latur on 9 April.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the poll panel was unanimous in disposing of a third complaint against the prime minister for his speech in Rajasthan's Barmer where he warned Pakistan about India's nuclear arsenal. “Every other day they used to say ‘we have nuclear button, we have nuclear button’. What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?” he said, as per the report.

However, NDTV reported that one of the three commissioners dissented with the majority view to let Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah off the hook for their comments on five occasions, as per a high-ranking source. In addition to Modi's speeches in Karnataka and Maharashtra and his questioning of Rahul Gandhi selecting the Wayanad seat, the fifth instance related to Shah's comments,  also on Wayanad, where in a speech in Nagpur, he said "Rahul Gandhi is contesting in such a place where it is impossible to say when a procession is taken out, whether it is a procession in India or Pakistan."

Since it was not a quasi-judicial decision, the dissent was not recorded. It was a view verbally presented in the meeting, a functionary explained. The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 states that if the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.

The commission transacts its business by holding regular meetings and also by circulation of papers. All election commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the commission.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: May 04, 2019 20:51:59 IST