The Trinamool Congress, the Congress and Telugu Desam Party on Sunday wrote to the Election Commission of India, alleging that the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand on Saturday was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, given the wide media coverage provided to the trip.
“Even though the election campaign for the last phase of polling for 2019 Lok Sabha is over as long as back on May 17 at 6 pm, surprisingly Narendra Modi’s Kedarnath Yatra is being covered and widely televised for the last two days in all national as well as local media,” Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien said in his letter, according to PTI. “This is a gross violation of the Model Code of Conduct.”
O’Brien said that Modi also announced to the media that a master plan for the shrine was ready, and addressed the public. “Every minute detail of his activities during the visit is being widely publicised with an ulterior motive to influence voters directly and/or indirectly,” the letter added.
The letter said it is unfortunate that the poll panel has not taken any action against Modi. “Election Commission, the highest body and the eyes and ears of the democratic process, remains blind and deaf to the gross violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” O’Brien said.
The Telugu Desam Party and the Congress also wrote to the Election Commission with similar complaints. The TDP claimed that “all the private activities done by him [Modi] during his pilgrimage are being displayed and continuously telecast, which is a clear violation of the MCC”, ANI reported. Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya said, according to PTI: “His trip is all over the media. Is this not a way to directly and indirectly influence voters ahead of polls? It is absolutely unethical.”
The poll panel had given Modi permission to visit the shrine while “reminding” the Prime Minister’s Office that the Model Code of Conduct is still in force. Modi’s visit was covered extensively by the media and also became the butt of jokes on social media. The prime minister offered prayers at the Badrinath temple early on Sunday, ANI reported.
Polling for the seventh and last phase of the 2019 General Elections is being held on Sunday. The results for all phases will be declared on May 23.