GANDHINAGAR (TIP): Narendra Modi invited a strong censure from the Election Commission on Wednesday, April 30, including lodging of FIRs, but his close aides and Bharatiya Janata Party seemed relatively unconcerned over their prime ministerial candidate’s legal tangle.
The Gujarat Police filed two FIRs against Modi on orders of the Election Commission of India that charged him with holding a politically charged press conference and posing for photographs with a lotus insignia next to the indelible ink on his finger.
Although the sections under which BJP’s PM candidate has been charged could invite maximum imprisonment for up to two years, the party seemed unfazed saying Modi didn’t violate any law since it was not an organized press conference. Modi’s reaction was scathing. “Till now I have not had a single FIR even for wrong parking. I will not forget this day.
Today there is an FIR in my name in Gujarat. Someone shows a gun or knife there can be an FIR, but I showed a lotus that is why an FIR was filed against me. This shows how worried Congress is. Defeat is certain for them,” he tweeted. But the poll Commission justified its unusually strong order citing the content of Modi’s speech to the media. “…The said address was in the nature of political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections in the constituencies going to polls today (Wednesday),” the order said.
Although BJP’s Gujarat unit remained tightlipped on the issue, tossing the ball in the court of the central leadership, leaders said the charges would not stick since every major leader had in one way or the other displayed their political allegiance during the post-poll photo ops. For instance, Sonia Gandhi had pointed to her palm – the Congress symbol – casting her vote while top AAP leaders had walked into polling booths sporting their Aam Aadmi caps, they said.
“Even politically, this will not have much significance as the matter will die down sooner than you expect,” a top Gujarat BJP leader said, requesting not to be named since the matter is under investigation. In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to the social media in aid of his party colleague. “Why one is singled out for a violation done by all and sundry? Persons in similar circumstances are not receiving similar treatment, Umpireji,” tweeted Chouhan, who, incidentally, is considered a likely challenger to Modi within the party for the top post.
A former EC member too seemed to go along with BJP’s defense when he said the courts might let off Modi in this case. “He will probably plead leniency on the ground that he did not invite presspersons to the polling station and that his address to the media was spontaneous. It’s natural for a politician to react when he sees a camera. The court might not view this matter as seriously as we are (doing) right now,” he said, on condition of anonymity since the matter is sub judice.