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Rahul Gandhi’s TV interviews stopped by EC, FIR against channel

Violations of laws and regulations can lead to serious trouble, no matter who they are. This is proved in the following news.

The Election Commission on Wednesday directed the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat to initiate action against media channels that had telecast Rahul Gandhi’s interview across poll-bound districts by filing an FIR for violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

EC also issued a notice to Rahul for the interview and asked him to explain by December 18 why action should not be taken against him for violating the model code.

The Election Commission termed the telecast of the interview as “display of election matter” in violation of the 48-hour ban in force for Phase-2 polling.

Acting on reports and complaints against telecast of Rahul Gandhi’s interview across poll-bound districts, the EC said “such display falls within the definition of ‘election matter’ under Section 126(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and display of such election matter within 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in the poll-going areas, amounts to the violation of Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act”.

The EC order said: “The Commission after due deliberations has, therefore, directed the chief electoral officer of Gujarat to initiate necessary action by filing FIR against those who have violated the above-mentioned provisions in Phase 2 districts in Gujarat going to poll tomorrow, i.e., 14th December 2017”.

The Election Commission also asked the TV channels “which are violating the provision of Section 126(1)(b) by displaying said election matter in Phase 2 districts in Gujarat to forthwith stop the display of such matter”.

The BJP had filed three complaints with the Gujarat election commission claiming that Rahul’s interview constitutes poll campaigning, which is not allowed 48 hours before the elections.

The Congress, in turn, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of misusing the FICCI platform on Wednesday.

Alleging double standards, party communications in charge, Randeep Surjewala said while FIR was being registered against TV channels for showing Mr. Gandhi’s interview, why no such action was being taken against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah on the same ground.

He said Mr. Jaitley had released the party manifesto in Ahmedabad on December 8; Mr. Modi held four public meetings on December 9, and Mr. Shah addressed a press conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. He said a delegation led by Congress leader Ashok Gehlot would visit the EC office late on Wednesday evening.

The BJP had earlier lodged a complaint with the Commission seeking action. “As per the Model Code of Conduct, such interviews are not permitted. We’ve learned from the EC, too, that 48 hours in the run-up to polls, interviews can’t be given. Is Congress so insecure? Only Rahul Gandhi can answer,” said BJP leader and Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

The Congress accused Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Gujarat BJP Chief Jitubhai Vaghani of making threat calls to media houses for airing Mr. Gandhi’s interview. “BJP is very angry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Chief Minister himself is calling up television channel offices and their editors threatening them with imprisonment for airing Rahul Gandhi’s interview,” said Mr. Surjewala.


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