Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gujarat cops' 'clean chit' to Modi over FIR against him

A new political controversy is brewing over a reported "clean chit" to Narendra Modi by the Gujarat police, in connection with a complaint filed against him for flashing his party symbol and giving a speech near the booth where he voted on Wednesday.

The police in Gujarat, the state Mr Modi has ruled since 2001, say their initial investigation reveals no violation of the Election Commission's rules. The Congress has reacted sharply to these comments.

"Our preliminary probe has revealed that authorities had marked a limit with a white strip outside the booth, and Mr Modi's press conference was outside that limit," the Press Trust of India quoted a senior Crime Branch officer as saying.

The Election Commission ordered an FIR or First Information Report against Mr Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, after he addressed the media after voting in Gandhinagar. The model code of conduct for elections prohibits canvassing within 100 metres of polling stations.

The Gujarat police said the charge against Mr Modi would not stand legal scrutiny, as he never called the media or others who had gathered at the Ranip polling station.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal said, "I don't think Gujarat police has given clean chit to anybody. The complaint of EC has nothing to do with how far he was from the booth. (The law) applies to ordinary people like us; is Narendra Modi God or above the law?"

On Thursday, Mr Modi appeared to blame the Congress for the FIR against him.  "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... I will never forget April 30," he said, adding that the FIR showed how "shaken" the Congress was.

The Election Commission had said on Wednesday that "it is evident from Modi's tone and tenor that he made a political speech. He intended, calculated to influence voting."

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