Why is Modi suddenly raging against the EC?

Is it, per chance, readying an excuse – and an exit route – if results do not match the hype?

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | May 6, 2014


Narendra Modi on way to file his nomination in Varanasi.
Narendra Modi on way to file his nomination in Varanasi.

For long during the 34 years of the Left Front administration in West Bengal, the Congress had an ‘explanation’ for the Front’s sweep: scientific rigging. The accusation was hurled especially at the CPI(M), the leading partner of the Front in both the state and nationally.

The opposition party in the state – subsequently the opposition parties, after Mamata Banerjee broke ranks with the parent party and formed the Trinamool Congress – alleged that the ruling front did this ‘scientific rigging’ in cahoots with the election commission (EC).

After the tables were turned in the summer of 2011, the accusation, not perhaps surprisingly, began to be hurled by the other side: the Left has since alleged repeatedly that the EC has been blind to the TMC’s ‘outreach’ programmes during elections – bullying and browbeating voters of the opposition camp – and the ‘inclusive’ programme in the run-up: getting its own favourite officials in key districts, among others.

From the very tone of the argument, the core was clear: you are drifting, my friend, off the winners’ podium.

But why is Narendra Modi, expected by most pundits, polls and political analysts to be the next prime minister, replaying a theme song on similar rhythm of late? First, the BJP’s PM candidate alleged that the EC was unaffected on “silent booth capturing” in West Bengal and parts of west UP that has voted in the initial phases.

“Why are you (EC) not acting? What is your intention? If you feel wrong about what I am saying now, then you are free to lodge another case against me,” Modi said at an election rally in Asansol, West Bengal, where a case has been filed against the party candidate, singer Babul Supriyo.

On Monday (May 5), addressing a rally to drum up support for Amethi candidate Smriti Irani, Modi “dared” the commission again, wondering how it would ensure free and fair polling in the ‘VIP’ constituency.

It all began, of course, about a week earlier – April 30, to be precise – when the EC asked the Gujarat police and the state government to lodge an FIR against Modi for using a media conference to ‘campaign’ right after casting his vote even as the state, and more than 60 other seats across the country were voting (please read). Addressing a rally in Tirupati later, Modi said, "In my entire life, not even a single FIR has been registered against me, not even for driving a scooter on the wrong side or for wrong parking. Suddenly today when I landed here I came to know that an FIR has been registered against me... I will never forget April 30."

While the BJP has criticised the EC for seeking an FIR over the incident, the Gujarat police has since stated that “initial investigation” reveals Modi did not violate any rule of the election commission on April 30.

Nevertheless, Modi’s sudden attack on the EC beats reason. A calculated salvo against the match referee is not expected to cut much ice with the voters, for Indians in general trust institutions like the EC and courts more than the political class.

It is even starker when seen against the huge shift in gear from Modi’s speeches at even the beginning of the year, when he kept to more or less development and the ‘Gujarat model of growth’.

This brings us to the charge that Modi is finding the going tougher than what it appeared a few months ago, and letting people know in a circuitous way. So, come May 16, if things are not as rosy as the buoyant supporters expect them to be, you know who to blame.

Expect the rage to head north from now till after May 16.

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