Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday termed Congress the “cry baby” of the Lok Sabha elections over its complaints to the Election Commission against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while noting that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) does not take away the right to free speech.
In a post on his website, Jaitley said that MCC is an extremely important and powerful instrument available to the Election Commission for conducting free and fair elections, and it was the first NDA government which transformed it from a directive measure to one with statutory support.
This gave it “more teeth”, he said.
Jaitley also said: “Of late, a tendency has developed amongst the political parties to excessively allege violation of the MCC by their opponents. The Congress Party as the ‘Cry Baby’ of this election, is leading the pack,” the BJP leader said.
He said the Constitution’s Article 19(1)(a) confers to every citizen the right to free speech and “this does not get suspended or diluted even during elections. Quite to the contrary, elections are the greatest celebration of Indian democracy. The sacrosanct Right of Free Speech has to be fully protected during this period”.
He said that while submitting memorandums on violation of the MCC in relation to contents of a political speech, everyone has to bear in mind that the code has to be interpreted not as diluting free speech but is subject to the right to free speech and “the two have to exist harmoniously”.
He also defended the clean chits given by the Election Commission to Prime Minister Modi on the Congress’ complaints.