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EC censures BJP’s Dilip Ghosh, Congress’ Supriya Shrinate for derogatory remarks

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has “strongly censured” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament (MP) Dilip Ghosh and Congress social media and digital platforms chairperson Supriya Shrinate for their respective statements about West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Mandi, Kangana Ranaut. In its public orders against Ghosh and Shrinate, the poll body said it will “specially and additionally” monitor their election related communications henceforth.

Congress leader Supriya Shrinate (Left) and BJP MP Dilip Ghosh (Right). (File Photos)

The ECI has also sent a warning notice to the BJP and Congress party chiefs, JP Nadda and Mallikarjun Kharge, respectively, so that they sensitise their functionaries during public communications and do not violate the MCC. The EC reiterated to the party chiefs that candidates and parties must refrain from actions and speech that “may be construed as being repugnant to the honour and dignity of women”.

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The poll body found both the incidents involving Ghosh and Shrinate prima facie violative of the MCC.

In its order against Ghosh, who is contesting from Bardhman-Durgapur in West Bengal, the ECI said, “[It] is convinced that he has made a low-level personal attack and thus violated the provisions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC)”.

In the order against Shrinate, the poll panel also said that it had “taken cognisance of the fact that Ms Shrinate is Chairperson, Social Media and Digital Platform of her party at national level and is expected to know sensitivities of wider communication”.

On March 27, the ECI had sent show cause notices to Ghosh and Shrinate for violating the model code of conduct. They sent their replies on March 28 and March 29, respectively.

In the show cause notices, the ECI had said that their remarks were found to be “undignified and in bad taste” and “offensive and insulting” and prima facie violative of provisions of MCC and the poll body’s advisory to political parties on March 1. EC cited Clause 2 of part I of MCC and Clause 3.8.2(ii), which say that parties and candidates must refrain from commenting on personal lives of their rivals.

While Shrinate had deleted her contentious Instagram post, the BJP distanced itself from Ghosh’s remarks and Nadda had sought a clarification on the same.

In the now deleted post, Shrinate had made a derogatory reference targeting Ranaut over her candidature from Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Ranaut tweeted a screenshot of the post and wrote, “We must free our daughters from the shackles of prejudices, we must rise above the curiosity about their body parts and above all we must refrain from using sex workers challenging lives or circumstances as some kind of abuse or slur… every woman deserves her dignity…”

An hour after Ranaut’s tweet, Shrinate deleted the post and posted a video on Twitter where she said in Hindi, “Multiple people have access to my Facebook and Instagram accounts. One of those people posted an extremely problematic and disgusting post from my Instagram account. As soon as I learnt of it, I first deleted it because anyone who knows me knows that I can never launch such a personal and horrid attack against a woman.” She said that this happened because of a parody account on Twitter which first made this post and which someone from her team copied and posted. She said that she had reported the Twitter account and was investigating who in her team made that objectionable post.

Ghosh, on the other hand, made a disparaging reference to chief minister Mamata Banerjee in his media address on March 25.

In Shrinate’s case, the poll body also cited another part of its advisory — “Social media posts vilifying and insulting the rivals or posts which are in bad taste, or which are below dignity are not to be posted or shared.”

The ECI’s letter to the Congress and BJP chiefs said, “You may please issue specific advisory to all party functionaries involved in election campaign and in interactions in public domain not to commit such type of violation as in the instant case, besides following the Model Code of Conduct in letter and spirit so as to not trigger a chain reaction of similar comments vitiating the election campaign.”

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