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Share details by evening: Election Commission tells senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh after he claimed Amit Shah called 150 DMs to intimidate them

It is pertinent to note that during the election period, District magistrates (DMs) and collectors are the returning officers of their respective districts.

On Sunday (2nd June), the Election Commission of India (ECI) asked Congress leader Jairam Ramesh to share details regarding his allegation that Union Home Minister Amit Shah dialled 150 District Magistrates (DMs) just days before the counting date. The poll body has sought factual information and details from the Congress leader by 7 pm on Sunday evening. ECI noted that the statements by the Senior Congress leader tend to create doubt and deserve to be addressed in the larger interest of the public.

It is pertinent to note that during the election period, District magistrates (DMs) and collectors are the returning officers of their respective districts.

The Election Commission asserted that it has not received a report from any DM that they are experiencing any undue influence, to date. However, it asked the Congress leader to give details so that the issue could be addressed in the “larger public interest”, given the gravity of the allegations leveled by the senior Congress leader. 

The letter read, “The process of counting of votes is a sacred duty cast upon every RO (Returning Officer) and such public statements by a senior, responsible and experienced leader tend to put an element of doubt and thus, deserves to be addressed in the larger public interest.”

It added, “Although no DM has reported any undue influence, EC had sought details and information from Jairam Ramesh of 150 DMs to whom Amit Shah has influenced, as alleged by Ramesh, and which he believes to be true, and had thus made these allegations.” 

The development comes a day after, Jairam Ramesh, Congress party’s General Secretary in charge of communications, alleged on Saturday that Amit Shah has been calling up district magistrates and collectors and indulging in “blatant and brazen” intimidation. 

Taking to X, Jairam Ramesh alleged, “The outgoing home minister has been calling up DMs/Collectors. So far he has spoken to 150 of them. This is blatant and brazen intimidation, showing how desperate the BJP is. Let it be very clear: the will of the people shall prevail, and on June 4th, Mr. Modi, Mr. Shah, and the BJP will exit, and the INDIA Janbandhan will be victorious.” 

Failure to unsubstantiate allegations could land Congress leader in trouble for undermining the democratic process

After his unverified claims attempting to allege election fraud began circulating, the Congress leader has been asked to submit his response and supporting details regarding his accusation against Amit Shah by evening. Failure to substantiate his claims, and if it turns out that his allegations of ‘mass rigging’ in the electoral process could be part of the shoot-and-scoot strategy by the I.N.D.I. alliance leader, could land him in trouble for casting aspersions, making unsubstantiated accusations, and undermining India’s democratic process.

For those unversed, the shoot-and-scoot strategy is notorious, with several politicians making unsubstantiated allegations against their rivals, often relying on hearsay or attributing them to third parties to undermine the integrity of the opponent in the eyes of the public. They then retreat to avoid consequences for their defamatory remarks about the rival candidate.

Over the past several years, the grand old party and its I.N.D.I. Alliance partners have escalated their attempts to undermine the authority of the polling body. They have raised questions about every step, person, and instrument involved in the electoral process, virtually making a case for an overhaul of the Constitutional body and everything within the electoral process according to their whims and electoral outcomes of the Congress and their I.N.D.I. Alliance partners.   

Strikingly, from raising unfound allegations against EVMs, and the sanctity of electoral rolls – the key instrument in the electoral process, the I.N.D.I. Alliance leaders have ramped up their efforts and effectively launched a smear campaign against the ECI and the integrity of the Election Commissioners. 

The latest allegation revolves around questioning the integrity of the Returning Officers (District Magistrates/Collectors), who are a structural unit within the Election Commission. The opposition had largely spared them in their smear campaigns against the ECI, predominantly targeting the senior leadership of the polling body, alleging that only the pliable election commissioners have compromised the integrity of elections. However, the latest allegation alludes that the alliance leaders have begun to target every organ of the electoral process. 

During the initial phases of voting, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge wrote a letter to I.N.D.I. Alliance leaders regarding the alleged discrepancies and delay in the voting data released by the ECI.

In its detailed 21-page rebuttal, ECI dismissed the allegations and termed his allegations around voter turnout data as “baseless”. It stressed that such attempts could create an “anarchic situation, besides doubts and disharmony” among the voters and common Indians.

Despite the fact that virtually every allegation levelled by the opposition to sow distrust among the public about the election process and results have turned out to be based on unsubstantiated claims, hearsay, and blatant lies – an apt illustration of shoot-and-scoot tactic – the opposition has brazenly continued its smear campaign, capitalising on the absence of accountability for their defamatory remarks.

Having said that, it’s crucial to note that unsubstantiated and defamatory remarks may lead to legal consequences, as seen in the case of Amit Shah’s doctored video to peddle blatant lies and fake news. After opposition’s social media units and leaders circulated a doctored video of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, falsely alleging that the BJP would abolish reservations if they came to power, legal action followed. Besides debunking the fake news, those responsible for spreading it were booked and are now facing legal consequences for their actions.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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