A video of Congress Uttar Pradesh (East)’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra smiling as a bunch of children use abusive language against PM Modi is the latest in BJP’s arsenal of attacks on the Congress.
In the video, Gandhi can be seen with some children who are at first raising anti Modi slogans like ‘Chowkidar chor hai’, the Indian National Congress’s warcry against the Bharatiya Janata Party slogan “main bhi chowkidar". However, as the video progresses, the children can be seen switching to using abusive language against PM Modi.
While a clipped version of the video shows Gandhi encouraging the abusive chants, the original video depicts Gandhi chiding the children as soon as they used the abusive word and asking them to not continue.
The video, both clipped and original versions, have gone viral on social media with many including BJP leaders like Smriti Irani slamming Gandhi for allegedly teaching foul language to kids and goading them to use such words against Modi. And now, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the national body in charge of child protection issues in the country, has written to the Election Commission against the video, news agency ANI reported.
In a letter to the EC, NCPCR wrote, “The Commission is in receipt of a complaint , wherein a video link has been shared, in which it is seen that children are actively participating in election campaigning. The children can be seen using derogatory remarks and using abusive languages in the presence of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi," the letter read.
NCPCR further added that in a previous letter dated Jan 20, 2017, the Commission had requested the EC to children are not be used for election campaigning and that no political parties should use them for sloganeering, leafleting, handing out pamphlets in rallies or otherwise.
The Commission has demanded action from the EC.
In the video, when the children started using abusive chants, Gandhi stopped them and said “Yeh wala nahin. Accha nahin lagega. Acche bachche bano (Not this one. This is not nice. Act like good children)."
Reacting to the video, Union Minister Smriti Irani called it “Uncouth to the core." However, several others such as AAP leader Alka Lamba who wrote on Twitter that she “Loved her (Gandhi’s) reaction. “Good She has Guided n Stopped the Children at the right time…" she wrote.
This is not the first time that the use of children in electoral processes has come under fire. As per guidelines issued by the Election Commission in 2009, District Election Officers would personally be held responsible if in case of use of child labour for election activities. “The Commission has taken strong exception to use of children in work
connected with elections. It is highly objectionable," the EC said.
It also slammed Chief Electoral Officers of all states after children were found to be carrying electronic voting machines in Bhagalpur, Bihar as it was in violation of the Child Labour Act 1986 that prohibits children under 14 years from being employed.
(This story was first published on May 2, 2019)