NEW DELHI: Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi's interview aired on several news channels on Wednesday was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct implemented in Gujarat due to Assembly polls, the Election Commission of India said. The has also issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi for the same.
In the notice, the EC has asked Gandhi to reply by 5 pm on 18th December over his interview to TV Channels, seeking an explanation why action should not be taken against him for violating provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.
The poll panel has also said that an FIR be filed against channels that aired Gandhi's interview.
"Election Commission today received reports and complaints to the effect that some of TV channels in Gujarat have displayed interview given by Rahul Gandhi of Indian National Congress, in which Rahul Gandhi has been talking about election to Legislative Assembly of Gujarat, which are currently in progress and for which second phase of poll is scheduled to be taken tomorrow i.e. December 14, 2017," the EC said in a statement.
"Such display falls within the definition of "election matter" under Section 126 (3) of Representation of the People Act, 1951 and display of such election matter within 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll in the poll going areas, amounts to violation of Section 126 (1) (b) of Representation of the People Act, 1951," it said.
The EC said it has directed the state poll body to initiate necessary actions by filing an FIR against those who have violated the rules.
The poll panel has asked the channels to stop airing Gandhi's interviews.
A day before the polling for the second and the last phase in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi appeared on several local news channels, including ABP Asmita, in a move termed as 'breach of poll code' by the ruling BJP.
Earlier on Wednesday, the BJP has raised a strong objection over Gandhi giving interviews to media channels even as the party has lodged a complaint with the EC for the same.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal, while addressing a press conference at party headquarters, said that it was not permitted to give an interview to TV channels in the poll-bound state during last 48 hours of the election process.
"According to my understanding of the Model Code of Conduct, giving interviews to channels in Gujarat is not permitted. We consulted the Election Commission and it also said that it is not allowed to give interviews during 48 hours before the close of elections," Goyal said.
He said being a national party, Congress, should not have violated the election norms.
"The Congress seems to be so afraid about the outcome of Assembly elections that it has dared to breach the Model Code of Conduct," he said.