Modi-fied code of conduct for Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections?

Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections Organised Under Modi-fied Code of Conduct?

Opinion

The Election Commission decided to make the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections a multi-phased polling exercise to curb the poll related violence and maintain law and order in the state. Uttar Pradesh is prioritised by the EC due to its immense political value to the key players of Indian polity. However, despite all these measures the BJP is continuously flouting the EC’s norms and even violating the Supreme Court order of not playing with religious sentiments of the people to garner votes.

Much before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections started, the state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya promised the voters that the party will build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya if it’s voted to power. The promise was a violation of the Supreme Court verdict on separating religion from poll campaigns. However, neither the EC took any notice of this violation, nor did it issued any warning to the culprit leader. The silence of the EC remained quite conspicuous.

As soon as the first phase of the polling for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections were over in the most volatile parts of Western Uttar Pradesh, the Dainik Jagran group’s English website published an exit poll report that claimed that the BJP will be sweeping the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections with a clear majority.

The Jagran media group, which is owned by a upper-caste trader (Vaishya) family from Uttar Pradesh and whose former owner was a BJP MP himself, kept refuting the allegation and said that the exit poll report was published by mistake on its website that has fewer viewers. However, the EC took cognisance of the offence and registered a police complaint against the Jagran media company, which led to the arrest of the editor of the portal.

Though the EC showed its proactive action in the case of the violation of model code of conduct by the Jagran media, it didn’t take any step against those people who were responsible for the publication of the exit poll report, which according to the Jagran media was an advertisement. It’s well-known fact that the editorial staff doesn’t have any control over the content of advertisements published on websites or newspapers, however, the sole responsibility of the advertisement falls upon those who have paid the media outlet, in this case, Jagran media, money to publish the report.

If the entire exit poll report was an advertisement as per the claims of the Jagran media, then it’s very clear that which of the parties would benefit from such an advertisement. The advertisement was strategically placed at a time when the next round of polls for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections was close and the official campaigning was coming to an end. The EC remained silent after taking cosmetic measures against the editorial staff and without inquiring into the role of the political party that paid for the advertisement.

During the same time, the BJP started a propaganda around a murder of a teenager and the wounding of his father in Bijnor. The father-son duo was attacked by a group of Muslim men who were, according to the police, seeking revenge for the murder of four Muslim men killed in September 2016 in the same area, in which the father of the victim is an accused. The BJP and its supportive corporate media didn’t waste much time to turn it into another incident of Muslim ‘Jihad’ against “peaceful Hindus who support BJP” in a pro-Islamic Samajwadi Party ruled Uttar Pradesh.

The propaganda of the RSS went on unbridled at a time when polls were cast by people in other constituencies for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and being a “cultural organisation” – the RSS remained aloof from the poll regulations that the political parties must abide by. The EC didn’t take any step to curb the RSS propaganda even after knowing that the propaganda will severely violate both Model Code of Conduct and the Supreme Court verdict. The reluctance of the EC to act against the Hindutva propaganda can be ascribed to the Brahminical bureaucracy’s secret pact with the saffron bloc; a quid pro quo.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself plunged into the communal fray alike other RSS activists and carried out propaganda with a severe communal undertone. In a rally on 19th February in Fatehpur, Narendra Modi claimed that in the reign of Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party the family of the Yadavs and the Muslims are stealing all the fruits of development and the poor Dalits and backward castes are deprived of government benefits and schemes.

Modi’s communal tone reached the peak when he claimed that each village has a burial ground for the Muslims, yet they don’t have cremation grounds for the Hindus and he also added that electricity is specially provided during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan and alleged that the Hindus are deprived of electricity during the Diwali festival.

Though Modi’s claims don’t have any material base and are pure communal propaganda endorsed by the RSS, this rally itself made a great impact on the third phase of polling of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as it influenced the voters with its communal tonality and violated the Supreme Court verdict again.

When the Prime Minister can violate the code of conduct set by the EC and the verdict of the Supreme Court too, then his party men will also not bother about the regulations and by the time the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections reach its final phase, they will use the communal propaganda more explicitly using the garb of numerous Hindutva outfits associated with the “cultural organisation” RSS.

The biased actions of the EC and the law enforcement agencies against those parties and candidates who are fighting against the BJP clearly indicates that the conspiracy hatched by the Hindutva forces will have serious impacts in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and this election will be recorded as another instance when democracy can be tampered at will by those perched at the top of the system.

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