Mind your language during election campaigns: ECI
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Mind your language during election campaigns: ECI

May 3, 2023

Election Commission flags plummeting level of campaign discourse; issues advisory to parties

New Delhi: Taking note of the plummeting levels of discourse in the Karnataka Assembly election campaign, the Election Commission of India (ECI) yesterday issued an advisory to all recognised national and State parties to maintain the expected level of dignity, particularly with respect to their designated star campaigners.

The Commission has asked all national and State parties and candidates to exercise caution and restraint in their utterances during campaigning and not to vitiate the election atmosphere. The Commission’s attention has recently been brought to the instances of inappropriate vocabulary and language used during the ongoing campaign by persons.

The ECI’s advisory comes in the wake of the BJP and the Congress submitting multiple complaints against each other for remarks made during the campaign. The BJP had, on Apr. 28, complained to the EC about Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a “poisonous snake” while the Congress sought a ban on campaigning by Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for trying to create “an atmosphere of communal disharmony” through their statements.

Yesterday, the BJP submitted a new complaint to the poll panel, this time against Kharge’s son and Congress candidate, Priyank Kharge for calling the Prime Minister “nalayak beta (worthless son)” during an election event on Apr. 30.

Taking note of the above, in an advisory issued to all political parties for strict compliance, the ECI noted that the national parties and star campaigners enjoy extra enablement within the Representation of People’s Act.

The advisory states, “It is imperative for all parties and stakeholders to remain within the confines of the Model Code of Conduct and the legal framework in their utterances while campaigning so as to maintain the dignity of the political discourse and not to vitiate the campaign and the election atmosphere.

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“They are thus expected to contribute in maintaining and raising the level of discourse to “issue” based debate, provide pan India perspective, depth to the local discourse and to reassure all sections of electors to participate fully and fearlessly in a free and fair election.”

In the advisory, ECI has invited the attention of the political parties to the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and other statutory provisions which hold the field and fix the framework of the expected campaign discourse. ECI notes that as per the Model Code of Conduct provisions, the use of provocative and inflammatory statements, the use of intemperate and abusive language transgressing the limits of decency and attacks on the personal character and conduct of political rivals vitiate the level playing field.

The spirit of the Model Code of Conduct is not just avoidance of a direct violation, it also prohibits attempts to vitiate the electoral space through suggestive or indirect statements or innuendoes.

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