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1-min read

Model Code of Conduct Not Above Free Speech, Jaitley Says After EC's Second Clean Chit to Modi

The Election Commission had on Wednesday given its second clean chit to the PM for his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot airstrikes in Latur, Maharashtra.

Updated:May 2, 2019, 3:25 PM IST
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Model Code of Conduct Not Above Free Speech, Jaitley Says After EC's Second Clean Chit to Modi
File photo of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
New Delhi: Dismissing Congress objections to the content of some of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll speeches, senior BJP leader and finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the model code of conduct is not a substitute to free speech.

“MCC is subject to free speech. It does not infringe on free speech,” Jaitley said at a joint press conference with defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the BJP headquarters.

Responding to critics of the use of armed forces in political speeches, he asked how is the model code of conduct violated if votes are sought on nationalism, and instead said that it’s a matter of pride that national security is dominating the discourse for elections.

The Election Commission had on Wednesday given its second clean chit to the PM for his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot airstrikes in Latur, Maharashtra, on April 9. A day earlier, the poll panel had cleared his speech in Wardha in which he had questioned Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad in Kerala.

In case of the second complaint, the Commission overruled the opinion of the Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Osmanabad District Electoral Officer (DEO). Both had found Modi’s appeal to be “inconsistent” with the EC’s instructions prohibiting the use of armed forces for political gains.

On March 19, the poll panel had written to all parties asking them to advise their leaders and candidates to “desist” from “indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of the Defence forces”.
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