The Election Commission of India (ECI) today issued notice to Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi to show cause why action should not be taken against him for giving interviews to television channels which aired them today on the eve of the second and final phase of polling in the elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Gandhi has been given time till 5 pm of December 18 to respond to the notice.
The Commission pointed out that under sub-para (4) of Para 1 of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which, inter-alia, states that all parties and candidatesshall avoid scrupulously all activities which are "offences" under the election law.
It also said that Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 prohibits display to the public of any "election matter", inter-alia, on TV, during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll.
The notice also said that the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat had brought to the notice of all registered national level political parties that no matter related to election can be shown or displayed in theatres, TV channels or electronic media during the said period of 48 hours.
The Commission said it had received reports and complaints that Mr. Gandhi's interviews had been aired on some TV channels, in which he talked about the Gujarat elections.
It said that such display of his interview fell within the definition of the "election matter" and amunted to violation of the prohibition contained in Section 126 (1) of the RP Act.
Separately, the Commission also wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat about the telecast of the interviews and directed him to initiate necessary action for violation of the RP Act by filing a first information report (FIR) against those who had violated the provisions immediately in the areas which are going to the poll tomorrow.
In addition, it asked the CEO, Gujarat to direct all TV channels in Phase-II districts to forthwith stop the display of such matter.