The Lok Sabha elections 2019 are well underway with phase 1 and 2 concluded. In the meantime, MCC violations have stacked up and kept the Election Commission (EC) busy. Before phase 3 begins, the EC is reviewing Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Chennai, Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton’s presence at a polling booth, and Congress campaigning on polling day in Jammu and Kashmir.
The MCC is a set of guidelines for political parties and candidates that govern their conduct during election campaigns. It is in force on the day the election schedule is announced and stays in place until after results have been declared.
Prior to the elections starting, the EC cracked down on violations like BJP member Babul Supriyo airing an uncertified song in West Bengal, Rajasthan governor demeaning the position of his office, and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s comments on Kanhaiya Kumar.
Phase 1 of the elections also saw a pile up of MCC violations, including the row over NAMO TV and food packets, and Mayawati and Yogi’s allegedly communal speeches.
EC says Rahul Gandhi did not violate MCC in Chennai
What happened: The Tamil Nadu government has ordered an inquiry into Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign event at Stella Maris Women’s College in Chennai on March 13. Officials were looking into how the college gave permission for Gandhi to speak to students while the MCC was in force.
Why is this a violation: The EC states that all parties and candidates must apply for required certification and licenses permitting the use of venues for campaign-related events. The EC or EC-authorised bodies must approve these certificates before any campaign even is held.
Outcome: Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Satyabrata Sahoo clarified that Gandhi’s interaction did not violate the MCC. He said that there was no violation of rules regarding seeking permission for the speech. However, Sahoo has asked the district electoral officer to compile a report providing more information on Gandhi’s speech itself.
BJP files FIR against Congress in Jammu and Kashmir
What happened: The BJP in Jammu and Kashmir filed a complaint with the EC against three Congress members for allegedly violating the MCC.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vikramaditya Singh, and Waqar Rasool have been accused of campaigning for the Congress while polling was taking place in the Udhampur district in J&K.
Why is this a violation: The EC bans any form of campaigning 48 hours before polling so as to not influence voters last minute. This time is called the “silence period”. The EC also prohibits campaigning and canvassing within 100 metres of polling stations.
Outcome: The BJP circulated an audio recording of Rasool as proof of the violation and asked the EC to penalise them under the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). There are no reports yet of the EC taking action.
Congress files FIR against Nagaland Deputy CM
What happened: On April 11, Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton allegedly visited the Riphyim Polling Station booth in the state’s Wokha district.
“The FIR against Patton is for serious violation of model code of conduct by entering the polling station wearing a political party’s scarf, and criminal conduct of impersonation and forgery by indulging in proxy voting,” said the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee.
Why is this a violation: The EC states that no party or candidate can campaign 48 hours before polling begins. It also says that campaign paraphernalia is not allowed within 100 metres of any polling booth.
Outcome: The Congress has filed an FIR against Patton demanding re-polling in that district. The EC accepted the MCC violation, but not the re-polling request because the presiding officer and sector magistrate reported no discrepancies in voting.
Phase 3 will begin on April 23 for voters to fill 115 seats across Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra, Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Dio.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius