The Allahabad High Court today resumed hearing on a petition challenging the election of Narendra Modi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat even as his counsel rubbished the petitioner’s allegations that “undue influence” was put on the electorate who were appealed to vote in his favour “in the name of Hindu religion”.
Appearing on behalf of Prime Minister Modi, senior Supreme Court lawyer and BJP leader Satya Pal Jain assailed the contention made by the petitioner — Congress MLA Ajay Rai who contested against Modi — that since the respondent (Modi) had been declared as the “Prime Ministerial candidate” beforehand, this had subjected the people to “undue influence”.
Jain, who is also Additional Solicitor General of India, argued that “undue influence” on voters could have been “only through threat or persuasion and the petitioner has failed to provide any evidence that such means were used”.
“Moreover, it was not Modi himself who had declared himself as the Prime Ministerial candidate. It was a policy decision taken by his party and in a parliamentary democracy every political party has the right to declare any person of its choice as its leader,” Jain said.
Jain also repudiated Rai’s contention that the people had been appealed to vote in the name of Hindu religion with the use of slogans like “Har Har Modi” and references to “Maa Ganga”.
“The Supreme Court has itself held that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Slogans like these were mostly raised by the supporters and not the candidate himself.
Moreover, the use of slogans never led to any situation that may have led to violation of the Representation of the People Act or the Model Code of Conduct,” Jain, who is also a member of the BJP national executive and a former MP from Chandigarh, said.
Jain also sought to refute the allegation that the expenses involved in Modi’s election from Varanasi had far exceeded the limit fixed by the Election Commission and pointed out that “the candidate had furnished full details of his poll expenditure with the Returning Officer within 30 days of the declaration of results”.
As the working hours came to a close, Justice Vikram Nath ordered that hearing on the petition will continue tomorrow.
( Source – PTI )