EC Issues Advisory Ahead Of Karnataka Polls, Urges Parties, Star Campaigners To ‘Exercise Restraint’

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Tuesday issued an advisory to political parties and their star campaigners, asking them to exercise caution and restraint in their utterances during campaigning in Karnataka and not to vitiate the election atmosphere. Taking serious note of the “plummeting level of campaign discourse” during electioneering, the poll panel referred to the instances of “inappropriate vocabulary and language” used during the ongoing campaign by persons, “in particular, by those invested with the statutory status of star campaigner”.

“Such instances have occasioned various complaints, cross complaints and have also attracted negative media attention,” the EC said in a statement.

The poll body also cited instances of “inappropriate vocabulary and language” being used by ‘star campaigners’ ahead of the state elections. The advisory also invited the attention of political parties to the Model Code of Conduct and other statutory provisions that are currently in effect.

BJP Delegation Meets EC

Earlier in the day, the BJP leaders met the Election Commission and raised the issue of the Congress promising tough action against Bajrang Dal and its leader Prinyak Kharge calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “nalayak.” The saffron party accused the opposition party of resorting to politics of appeasement and division in Karnataka.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who led the BJP delegation to the EC, defended the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the RSS-affiliated Vishva Hindu Parishad, as an organisation devoted to Lord Hanuman and serving people, and said the Congress’ attack on it was “shameful”. It shows that the party believes in only appeasement, he told reporters.

Asked if the party raised the issue before the poll panel, he said every “objectionable” comment and action of the Congress aimed at dividing the society was taken up. Party sources said the Bajrang Dal issue was raised orally before the EC.

The delegation included BJP MP Anil Baluni and party functionary Om Pathak. Goyal claimed that the Congress is rattled as the BJP is set to win the May 10 polls, adding that the opposition party is now trying to vitiate the law and order situation and divide the society as a last resort.

Targeting the Congress, he said its president Mallikarjun Kharge first called Modi a “poisonous snake” and his MLA-son has now made another objectionable remark by calling him “nalayak” (inept). “We have demanded that the EC take strict action in all these matters,” he said.

The senior BJP leader also dismissed the Congress’ complaint of “hate speech” against ruling party leaders like Home Minister Amit Shah and its president J P Nadda, saying they have raised the issues of national security and integrity. The Congress is trying to tarnish the image of PM Modi and India as the country’s reputation has risen under his leadership, he said.

The Congress in its election manifesto said on Tuesday that it is committed to taking firm and decisive action against individuals and organisations such as Bajrang Dal and the Popular Front of India (PFI) for “spreading hatred” among communities on grounds of caste and religion.

The action will include a “ban” against such organisations, the party said. Campaigning for the May 10 polls is hotting up with the Congress and the BJP being engaged in a war of words.