In the wake of 2017 Gujarat Assembly Elections, long-time rivals Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have been having heated arguments for a while now. The Election Commission on Thursday said that 2.22 crore people are casting their votes to over 800 candidates contesting for 93 seats of the 182 assembly seats.
Voting in the second phase began at 8 am and will end on 5 pm on December 14. However Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been pulled up for reportedly violating the Model Code of Conduct.
A day before the second phase of Gujarat elections, the Election Commission issued notice to the newly-anointed Congress President, following a letter from Gujarat's BJP unit over Gandhi's interview which he gave to a Gujarati news channel on Wednesday, December 13. The saffron party has alleged that the interview has violated the Model Code of Conduct.
The norms under MCC bars political parties from revealing anything about the election for 48 hours before votes are cast. Even the media has to abide by this rule and is also not allowed to broadcast anything in connection with the elections in that period.
The saffron party has alleged that Gandhi gave the interview after the campaigning for the polls had ended. The poll panel also filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the channel which aired the interview and has also instructed the media not to air or show anything from the interview.
According to the commission's directive, the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat will be initiating necessary action in line with the violation of Section 126 (1) (b) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, by regional channels that aired the interview.
The Election Commission came down heavily on Gandhi and said: "Explain why action should not be taken against you for violating provisions of MCC, failing which the commission will decide the matter without any further reference to you."
Union Minister Piyush Goyal also condemned the interview and said, "It was not permitted to give an interview in the last 48 hours of campaigning in Gujarat. I am sure the Election Commission will take cognizance of this and take action."
Gandhi has been asked by the EC to submit his reply by 5 pm on December 18. However a Congress delegation led by Ashok Gehlot reportedly met the EC to discuss the issue.
Reacting to the show-cause notice issued by the EC to Rahul Gandhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "For the record, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also gave an interview to a channel a day prior to voting. If that was not violation of the Model Code of Conduct, how could Rahul Gandhi's interview be?"
Congress leader Ashok Gehlot criticised EC's notice and pointing out at PM Modi's departure from Sabarmati, Gehlot said, "PM Modi's road show after casting vote is a clear case of violation of the model code of conduct. EC it seems is working under pressure from PM and PMO."
Aaj jab humne EC se subah pucha apni compliant ke baare mein toh kaha ki 5 baje ke baad jawab denge.Mukhya Chunav Aayukt jo PS to Modi ji the aaj bhi PS to Modi ji ki terah kaam kar rahe hain.Ye chunav aayog ke liye sharm ki baat hai: RS Surjewala,Congress pic.twitter.com/RpRzA9g7vV— ANI (@ANI) December 14, 2017
Meanwhile polling in second phase on Thursday morning saw 10% voter turnout till 10 am and will go on till 5 pm in the evening. The first phase of voting which was held on December 9 had recorded 68% voters from across Gujarat. The results will be announced on December 18.