Rahul Gandhi's interview: Officials to decide if model code violated (File photo)
Election officials in Gujarat are going through Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi's television interviews to see if any legal provisions related to the country's poll code were violated by the channels which aired them, an official said on Thursday.
Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain said all the videos of Gandhi's interviews telecast had been obtained on Wednesday.
"The Election Commission yesterday directed us to take action after screening the videos of the interviews to decide if there was any violation of legal provisions, as prescribed under section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of People Act", Swain told reporters in Gandhinagar.
"Our officials acquired those videos today. The screening process has been initiated", he said.
A political storm broke out on Wednesday after some Gujarati news channels aired Gandhi's interviews on the eve of the second phase of the state Assembly elections, being held in Central and Northern Gujarat. The interviews were telecast a day after campaigning came to an end.
Following a complaint by the BJP, the EC issued a showcause notice to Gandhi for "prima facie" violating the provisions of the election law and the model code by granting interviews to the channels.
The EC also directed the Gujarat CEO to lodge an FIR against anyone found guilty of violating the legal provisions. The EC notice had said the TV interviews fell within the definition of "election matter" and violated the Act.
"...By giving such interview and its display on TV channels on December 13, you have, prima facie, violated the...provisions of para 1 (4) of the Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Election Commission's lawful instructions in this regard", it had said.
After the notice to Gandhi, the Congress on Thursday said the Election Commission was a BJP "puppet" for not acting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his "roadshow" in Gujarat.
Modi had violated the model code of conduct by holding a "roadshow" after voting in the Assembly polls, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged.
The Congress had also petitioned the Election Commission to take action against Modi for addressing an event organised by an industry body on Wednesday where he attacked the main opposition party.
A delegation of Congress leaders comprising Ashok Gehlot, Anand Sharma and Surjewala had handed over a memorandum to the poll body, demanding strong action against Modi and other BJP leaders for addressing press conferences and events on the eve of last phase of polling in Gujarat.