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PM Modi's 48-hour Vivekananda Rock meditation a poll ploy, says Opposition; adds violates MCC if televised

The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of attempting to "circumvent" the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in Kanyakumari starting on May 30.

PM Modi's 48-hour Vivekananda Rock meditation a poll ploy, says Opposition; adds violates MCC if televised snt
First Published May 29, 2024, 9:38 PM IST

The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of attempting to "circumvent" the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in Kanyakumari starting on May 30. The party urged the Election Commission to ensure that the media does not air coverage of the trip, arguing that it violates the model code of conduct.

A delegation of Congress leaders, including Randeep Surjewala, Abhishek Singhvi, and Syed Naseer Hussain, met with the Election Commission and submitted a memorandum concerning this issue, along with 27 other complaints of alleged model code violations by the BJP in recent days.

The Congress argued that the prime minister's meditation program at Kanyakumari's 'Dhyan Mandapam' constitutes a "clear violation" of the silence period before the June 1 voting in Modi's Varanasi constituency and other constituencies. They further claimed it breached the Model Code of Conduct and provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The Congress noted that on May 28, several news agencies reported that Narendra Modi would be traveling to Kanyakumari for a 48-hour meditation retreat starting on May 30.

Also read: World learnt about Mahatma Gandhi via 1982 movie, says PM Modi; Congress hits back (WATCH)

"The said trip would be widely televised and would therefore be shown during the 48-hour silence period in Varanasi, the constituency from which Shri Narendra Modi is contesting," the Congress memorandum to the EC said.

"Through the meditation trip, Shri Narendra Modi is attempting to circumvent the 48-hour silence period and unfairly leverage the ethnocultural significance of the chosen location in an attempt to bolster his campaign and maximise his vote share in violation of the Representation of the People Act, as well as Model Code of Conduct," the party also said.

The memorandum also stated that the meditation trip violated the election period orders related to Dos and Don'ts that political parties and their candidates are required to adhere to.

"The PM will start his meditation on the evening of May 30 and we have complained about that. We all know that the silence period will begin on May 30 and thus his declaration is a violation of the MCC. The PM can start his meditation after 24-48 hours, which is from the evening of June 1. Otherwise, if he wants to meditate from May 30, then the ECI should ensure that this is not broadcast by the TV or print media," Singhvi told reporters after the delegation met CEC Rajiv Kumar and other ECs.

"We hope that the ECI will take immediate steps to ensure that the live telecast of the meditation of the 'sarva-ghoshit Bhagwan' (self-styled god) at the Vivekananda Memorial does not take place since this is a brazen and clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct," Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too stated that the Trinamool Congress would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission if PM Modi's meditation session in Kanyakumari is broadcasted, claiming it would constitute a breach of the MCC.

"We will complain. He can meditate, but televisions cannot show it," she said, alleging that this would amount to a "violation of the MCC."

"Does anyone have to get cameras for doing meditation?" she asked, claiming that it was a way of campaigning during the silence period between the end of campaign and the poll date.

BJP leaders stated that following the culmination of the Lok Sabha polls campaign on May 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meditate at the Rock Memorial, a monument built in tribute to Swami Vivekananda. He is scheduled to meditate from the evening of May 30 to the evening of June 1 at Dhyan Mandapam, the site where Vivekananda—whom Modi greatly admires—is believed to have had a divine vision about 'Bharat Mata'.

Additionally, Congress leaders lodged a complaint against the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for "granting a waiver" to Renewable Energy Plants located in SEZs and EOUs, exempting them from complying with mandatory guidelines prescribed for 'onshore wind power projects'.

"Such a waiver possesses significant potential to skew the level playing field in the ongoing elections," the party said.

The Congress also raised concerns about alleged violations of the model code of conduct by the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The opposition party claimed that the Prime Minister's statements at a poll rally in Patiala, Punjab, breached the MCC, as he made numerous allegations against the Congress to tarnish the opposition party's image.

"He also levelled baseless allegations about the INC being responsible for the Partition and that INC was opposed to granting of citizenship to members of the Sikh community under CAA 2019 in an attempt to outrage, mislead and unduly influence the electorate to refrain from voting for the INC," it alleged.

The Congress also accused Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma of making "explicit appeals to vote on the basis of religion, while falsely portraying the INC as communal, biased, and as a political party which does not adhere to the Constitution in letter or spirit".

The opposition party also alleged that during his election speech at Ambedkar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, Home Minister Amit Shah reiterated the BJP's narrative by identifying the party and its allies as "Ram Bhakts" (devotees of Lord Ram). Simultaneously, he claimed that the INC and its allies were "Ram Bhakton par Goli Chalane Waale" (those who open fire on devotees of Lord Ram).

"Amit Shah made other statements which prejudicially referred to members of a particular religious minority as 'ghuspathiye' (infiltrators)," the Congress said.

Also read: PM Modi alleges 'conspiracy' behind Naveen Patnaik's sudden deteriorating health, pledges probe (WATCH)

It alleged that the BJP leader reiterated "baseless claims about the INC taking away reservations from members of the SC, ST and OBC communities with the intention to give it to members of a particular religious community for securing its 'vote bank'".

The Congress also levied allegations against the BJP, accusing them of misusing the state machinery in Uttar Pradesh by deploying state government buses to transport supporters to a poll event venue.

"Such use of governmental resources by the party in power violates provisions of the model code as well as the doctrine of level playing field," the opposition party alleged.

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