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PM Modi's Mission Shakti Speech Did Not Violate Model Code of Conduct, Says Election Commission

The poll panel said official media was not misused as the telecast of the Prime Minister's address was not live on DD or AIR and they had taken the feed from a news agency.


Updated:March 29, 2019, 11:10 PM IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on India successfully testing an anti-satellite missile did not violate the model code of conduct, the Election Commission said in a statement on Friday evening.

The EC said it took the decision based on the report of a committee of officers which found that the PM did not violate the poll code provision of a 'party in power' misusing official mass media during election period.

"The committee has, therefore, reached the conclusion that the MCC provision regarding misuse of official mass media...is not attracted in the instant case," the commission said in a letter addressed to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who had initially filed the complaint.

Several opposition parties had complained that Modi highlighted an "achievement" of the government and the issue was not necessarily related to national security.

The scale and timing of the announcement was seen as an effort to bolster the narrative that national security tops the BJP agenda as it came just a fortnight before the Lok Sabha election.

The poll panel, however, restricted itself to the technical aspects of whether the poll code was violated through official media misuse. It said it had sought the comments of Doordarshan and All India Radio director generals on the issue.

It was satisfied that the telecast of the Prime Minister's address was not live on DD or AIR. It said that while DD had taken the feed of the speech from news agency ANI, AIR had taken the audio feed from DD.

The EC report does not mention whether it had examined the transcript for the content of the speech.

On being asked why the report is silent on the content of the speech, a senior functionary explained that since the state/government media was not used, the issue of content does not arise.

There was a view in the Commission that the speech did not violate the model code in letter, "but we can't say it about the spirit of the code".

The announcement had triggered a political slugfest, with the opposition parties accusing the PM of appropriating credit from DRDO and ISRO scientists.

At a poll rally on Friday, the Prime Minister told supporters that his government had set up a ‘chowkidar’ in space and urged people to vote for a government that can take concrete decisions and not just raise slogans.

India had on Wednesday shot down one of its satellites in space on Wednesday with an anti-satellite missile to demonstrate this complex capability, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, making it only the fourth country to have used such a weapon.

Declaring India has established itself as a global space power after the success of the operation 'Mission Shakti', Modi said the missile hit a live satellite flying in a Low Earth Orbit after it traversed a distance of almost 300 km from earth within three minutes of its launch.

The announcement was made by the PM in a broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media.

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