Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Election Commission of India for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Kedarnath shrine over the weekend. Gandhi said the poll panel’s “capitulation before the prime minister and his gang is obvious to all Indians”.

“From Electoral Bonds & EVMs to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, “Modi’s Army” & now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi & his gang is obvious to all Indians,” Gandhi tweeted. “The EC used to be feared & respected. Not any more.”

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram claimed the poll panel had been “sleeping on the job”. “Polling is over. Now we can say that the ‘pilgrimage’ of the PM in the last two days is an unacceptable use of religion and religious symbols to influence the voting,” he said. “Our charge had been that the EC was sleeping on the job. Now, we can go further and say that the EC completely surrendered its independence and authority. Shame!”

The Election Commission had allowed Modi to visit the Kedarnath shrine while “reminding” the Prime Minister’s Office that the Model Code of Conduct was still in operation. However, the visit caused a lot of controversy.

The Trinamool Congress, the Congress and Telugu Desam Party wrote to the poll panel, alleging that the visit was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien said in his letter that every minute detail of Modi’s visit is being publicised.

The Telugu Desam Party 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”. Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya said: “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.”

Polling for the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Sunday. Results for all seven phases will be declared on May 23.