CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Saturday wrote to the Election Commission insisting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to nation over the ASAT launch was "a gross violation" of the model code of conduct (MCC) because after his speech the PM claimed he was a "chowkidar not only on land and air but also in outer space".
Yechury's letter to the chief election commissioner comes a day after an election commission team declared that Modi's address on the successful test-firing of an anti-satellite missile did not violate provisions of the model code of conduct.
The poll panel had constituted the committee to look into the PM's speech upon complaint by Yechury and other opposition parties. A copy of the EC's Friday report was also sent to Yechury.
In his Saturday letter, Yechury said the EC made a "narrow interpretation" of his complaint. "Since the ECI has confined itself exclusively to the issue of 'misuse of official media' I would request the ECI to direct the official media to treat speeches/statements made by leaders of recognized national parties in a similar manner as they have treated this speech of the Prime Minister," he said.
The larger issue, he said, was that the PM as a candidate in the elections is "using" the office of the Prime Minister to convey a development achieved by scientists. "This constitutes a gross misuse of the office for furthering electoral objectives," Yechury argued.
He said that soon after the speech, the Prime Minister is on record to claim that he is a "chowkidar (watchman) not only on land and air but also in outer space".
The Prime Minister has often called himself a chowkidar (watchman) to highlight his fight against corruption and his strong stand on national security.
"The Prime Minister and other leaders of the BJP are actively campaigning saying that this government has shown the guts which previous governments did not. What else does this mean but a gross misuse of the office of the Prime Minister for seeking electoral gains," Yechury said.
He said an announcement of this nature is normally done by senior officers of the establishment like the Director, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)."That the Prime Minister chose to announce it himself constitutes a gross violation of the Model Code of Conduct. It is a gross misuse of the office of the Prime Minister for partisan ends," the Left leader said, appealing to the EC to consider this aspect in the spirit of free and fair elections.