NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday made a strong attack on the Election Commission, accusing it of becoming a "puppet" in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who it said was breaking rules in a last bid to save the BJP's "sinking ship" in Gujarat.
Charging the poll panel with not acting on its complaints against the BJP and Modi, the Congress said the Election Commission was turning a blind eye to democratic and constitutional norms being violated by the ruling party openly and brazenly.
The Congress strongly objected to Modi's "roadshow" after he voted in Ahmedabad which it said was a flagrant violation of the model code of conduct.
"It was an election campaign. Modi's roadshow after casting vote is a clear case of violation of the model code of conduct. The Election Commission, it seems, is working under pressure from the Prime Minister and PMO," Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said.
"If any shame is left in the Election Commission, it should act on the Congress complaints," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters here.
He said Modi was brazenly violating constitutional norms and the Election Commission was silent.
"The Election Commission has set different standards for the BJP and the Congress. What is the reason for the Election Commission to behave like a front organisation of the BJP?"
Surjewala said the Congress asked the poll panel about its complaints and was told that they would be looked into after 5 p.m. after the end of the second and final phase of Gujarat election.
"The Chief Election Commissioner (A.K. Joti), who was Chief Secretary to Modi (when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat), is still acting as the Chief Secretary to Modiji. This is shameful for the Election Commission."
The Congress leaders said the way the BJP was behaving clearly indicated that Modi has conceded defeat in Gujarat.
"I am sorry to say but Modi has taken the help of the puppet Election Commission to save the BJP's sinking ship in Gujarat."
Replying to questions, Surjewala said either the Commission was blindfolded or sleeping.
"PM's violations are not seen by the EC. Its action amounts to police saying they have not seen a murder taking place in front of their eyes unless somebody comes up with an FIR."
He said even on Wednesday, the Congress sought an appointment with the Election Commission and was told the panel would meet them on Thursday morning.
"It was only after we threatened to stage a 'dharna' we were given an appointment at 10.15 at night," he said.
Surjewala also wondered what the Election Commission observers and the staff were doing about Modi's violations.
"Through this press conference, we are trying to wake up the Election Commission. We would appeal to the Election Commission not to turn blind and deaf. It should not stoop to the level of personality worship because people's trust in the institution will be destroyed by this."