Prime Minister’s Meditation Trip During Elections: No Legal Hindrance, Say Sources

Preeti Bali / 11:16 am / May 30, 2024

Amid Congress’s criticism of Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Kanyakumari’s ‘Dhyan Mandapam’ starting May 30, informed sources confirmed on Wednesday that there is no legal restriction under electoral law preventing the Prime Minister from undertaking a meditation retreat during the election period.


 Congress’s Allegations Against Modi’s Meditation Trip


The Congress party accused Prime Minister Modi of attempting to bypass the silence period restrictions by scheduling a 48-hour meditation retreat, which they claim violates the Model Code of Conduct. They have called on the Election Commission to ensure that the media does not broadcast any coverage of his meditation activities.


 Legal Provisions on Silence Period


According to sources, Section 126 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, addresses the prohibition of public meetings or election-related publicity during the silence period. This period commences 48 hours before the end of polling. For the final phase, which includes Modi’s Varanasi constituency, the silence period starts at 6 PM on Thursday.


 Multi-Phased Election Exception


The election law provisions are not applicable to multi-phased elections if the election material pertains to subsequent phases and does not reference the polling areas under the silence period. This was highlighted in a press note issued by the Election Commission last month.


 No Violation If Election Matters Not Mentioned


Sources emphasized that as long as the Prime Minister refrains from discussing the specific locality where the election is taking place, there is no breach of the electoral laws. They added that there appears to be no violation if no spoken words related to the election are reported. A similar allowance was granted to the Prime Minister during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when polling in Varanasi was scheduled for the final phase on May 19.


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