EC says Tharoor’s statement against Chandrasekhar in interview violates model code


PTI, Apr 15, 2024, 8:08 PM IST

Representative image (source: PTI)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Election Commission has found the statements by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor against BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a TV interview were unwarranted and violated the Model Code of Conduct and warned him against making “unverified allegations” in future.

The “strict warning” from the Election Commission (EC) came on complaints by the BJP’s Election Legal Convener and the NDA’s Election Committee Convener who had alleged that Tharoor had made unsubstantiated accusations against Chandrasekhar in an interview.

Tharoor, who is local MP from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency and is contesting from there against Chandrasekhar, had denied the allegation against him and contended he had not mentioned Chandrasekhar or his party’s name anywhere in the interview.

The Congress leader had also said his statement was only a general observation as told to him by people.

Disagreeing with his claim, the EC said his contention was “untenable.”

It said that “the imputations when read along with the context of the interview pointed at Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Any reasonable man could have made out from the interview that the accusations were directed at Rajeev Chandrasekhar.”

The poll panel also said Tharoor has not offered any proof to substantiate the statements he made against Chandrasekhar in the interview.

“Considering the gravity of the allegations, such a statement was unwarranted and violates the Model Code of Conduct (MCC),” it held.

At the same time, the EC also held it cannot be proved that Tharoor has appealed to caste, communal or religious feelings through his statements.

“The statements were general and the intention to target such feelings cannot be made out. Shashi Tharoor is given a strict warning to not make unverified allegations in the future in contravention to the MCC,” it said in its order of April 12.

The EC also directed the TV channel which conducted the interview “not to broadcast the impugned part of the interview till the MCC is in force.”

“Further, they are directed to remove/ stop any other form of publication of the impugned part of the interview till the MCC is in force,” it added.

Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Electronics, has already sent a legal notice to Tharoor, accusing the Congress MP of making defamatory statements against him on the TV channel.

The notice demanded that Tharoor “immediately withdraw” all the allegations made against Chandrashekhar on April 6 and tender an unconditional public apology to him on print and electronic media.

It also demanded that he should “cease, refrain and desist from defaming, harassing, hampering the reputation” of the minister in the future.

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