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India’s Modi Accused of Brazen Election Violations Over Hate Speech

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India's Modi Accused of Brazen Election Violations
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Retures Image

India’s opposition has accused the country’s electoral commission of allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue “unchecked and brazen” violations by failing to act on opposition allegations of religious hate speech and misinformation.

More than halfway through India’s six-week national elections, the world’s largest, the Congress party-led opposition protested in a letter to the Election Commission of India on Friday that “no meaningful action has been taken to penalize those who are guilty in the ruling regime”.

This was a “complete abdication” of the commission’s responsibilities, it stated. “As a result there has been an unchecked and brazen continuation of these violations, which are now committed with impunity and utter disregard.”

The watchdog is in charge of ensuring that political parties in the multiethnic South Asian country do not break election rules by fostering religion, caste, or language divisions.

In his campaign speeches, Modi, who is seeking a rare third straight term, has criticized the Congress, arguing that it intends to help minority Muslims at the expense of other socially disadvantaged groups.

Election results due in June

Representatives from the commission and Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not reply to calls for comment.
On June 4, the world’s most populous nation will declare the results of its elections.

On Tuesday, the commission ordered social media platform X to remove a video posted by a BJP state unit accusing Congress officials of preparing to provide welfare benefits to Muslims at the expense of other impoverished tribal and Hindu caste communities.

While not issuing any findings on the complaints, the commission has requested a statement from BJP leader J.P. Nadda regarding an April 21 address in which Modi stated that the Congress intended to redistribute money from Hindus to Muslims, whom he referred to as “infiltrators” and “those with many children”.

The commission has also notified the Congress of the BJP’s objections, stating that it has submitted three.

“The delay calls into question the credibility of the election commission and, by extension, the election process,” said S.Y. Qureshi, a former head of the three-member commission. “Any damage to its reputation will cause incalculable harm to the legitimacy of India’s democracy.”

India’s opposition furious

The opposition letter cites ten complaints the Congress has filed against Modi and top aides since April 6 for making “divisive,” “false,” and “provocative” statements that foment sectarian divide and distort Congress’ stance.

“We are not told what is the response, what action is being taken,” Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters after meeting with commission officials on Friday.

“This is an irreversible window,” Singhvi explained. “If they don’t act promptly it would be a complete abdication of constitutional duty.”

Ashok Lavasa, an election commissioner for the 2019 general election, stated that the procedure from receiving a complaint to deciding on it “should not take more than three to four days because otherwise it loses purpose” due to the campaign’s short duration.

Meanwhile, as India continues its 2024 election, the country faces a watershed moment. The ruling party hopes to earn another term by highlighting its economic reforms and infrastructure development. However, the opposition accuses the government of neglecting critical concerns like as unemployment and rising costs.

The election battleground spreads throughout India’s various states, each with its own set of challenges. Rural voters want better agricultural policies, while urban residents want more civic facilities. Regional parties may play kingmakers, establishing alliances to influence the outcome.

With over 900 million eligible voters, the world’s largest democracy has enormous logistical challenges. Ensuring free and fair elections throughout India’s huge territory would put the Election Commission’s powers to the test. Misinformation and hate speech pose risks, emphasizing the importance of responsible behavior by all parties.

The 2024 elections in India will have a long-term impact on the country. Voters will decide whether to keep the current administration or usher in a new era with new leadership.

Source: Reuters

 

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