Karnataka Polls: EC Issues Notice to State Cong Chief Shivakumar on ‘Corruption Rate Card’ Ads Against BJP
The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a notice to Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President DK Shivakumar for publishing an advertisement titled ‘corruption rate card’ in newspapers in Karnataka. The advertisement reportedly contained “unsubstantiated information with respect to alleged rates” cited for appointments and transfers, kinds of jobs and commissions by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For this, the grand old party has been asked to show reasons and provide empirical evidence by 7 pm on Sunday. The party has been asked to explain why action shouldn’t be initiated against them for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and relevant legal provisions under R P Act and IPC.
Specific accusations and charges need to be segregated as the same must be backed by verifiable facts. Making specific charges without any factual basis is an action proscribed by the penal statutes. Independently, accusations without any corresponding informational verification vitiates the electoral process by disturbing the level playing field by potentially misleading the elector, marrying the exercise of making informed choices. The Commission noted that the allegations and imputations made in the particular advertisement are not general.
“The advertisement, in its very content and format, makes very specific charges, accusing all levels of government machinery (political and bureaucratic) of being compromised and saleable. This brings into disrepute the entire administration, which has the potential of fomenting a feeling of distrust and undermining the legitimacy of the governance system at large, which otherwise, inter-alia, is vital for the smooth conduct of the poll itself,” the notice added.
The Commission had received a complaint on May 5 from the BJP that Congress party has published an advertisement with above-mentioned allegations. Earlier this week, on May 2, the Commission had advised all parties and stakeholders to remain within the confines of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and the legal framework in their utterances while campaigning so as to maintain the dignity of the political discourse and not to vitiate the campaign and election atmosphere.
While the Commission notes that criticism of the policy and governance of the opponent parties is a right guaranteed under the constitution, as well as an essential function of various political actors under our electoral process, however, while exercising this right and performing this essential function, the various political parties are expected to uphold high standards of public discourse and adhere to the various provisions of MCC and relevant laws. National parties enjoy special enablement under the R. P. Act 1951 and thus are expected to be most compliant to the MCC and legal framework.
The ECI also said that if the Congress party did not give any response, it will be assumed that it has nothing to say, and the poll body can take appropriate actions. The Commission directed the Congress party to convey the empirical evidence of the same, for example, the evidences for rates for kinds of appointments and transfers, kinds of jobs and jobs, and kinds of commission mentioned in the advertisement given by them along with any explanation and also put that in the public domain.
In conclusion, the Election Commission of India is taking strict action against political parties violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and relevant legal provisions under R P Act and IPC to maintain the dignity of political discourse and atmosphere during the Karnataka polls. The grand old party has been asked to show reasons and provide empirical evidence for the alleged corruption rate card against the BJP in the advertisement and adhere to the various provisions of the MCC and relevant laws.