3 Jun 2024

Jairam Ramesh seeks one-week to provide evidence against Amit Shah; what Election Commission said?

New Delhi: The Election Commission has rejected the plea of senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh for a one-week extension to furnish evidence backing his accusations against Union Minister Amit Shah. Ramesh was required to submit his response, along with any supporting evidence, by 7 pm on Monday. The allegations suggested that Shah had reportedly contacted and exerted pressure on district magistrates before the vote counting on Tuesday. However, Ramesh did not meet the deadline to provide the requested information.

The Commission previously stated that no district magistrate or other official had reported such complaints. Ramesh sought additional time to file his rebuttal.

"Your allegation that attempts have been made to influence the District Magistrates of around 150 Parliamentary Constituencies, who are also the ROs/DEOs, has serious connotation and direct bearing on the sanctity of the counting process, scheduled for tomorrow," the Commission stated in its response.

"As mentioned in the Commission's letter dated 02.06.2024, no DM has reported any such undue influence as alleged by you. Therefore, the Commission hereby outrightly rejects your request for a time extension," the letter read.

Commission would take appropriate action

In the absence of a response by the due time, "it would be presumed that you have nothing substantive to say in the matter," and the Commission would take appropriate action, the letter warned.

Following the election's conclusion on Saturday, Ramesh accused Shah, the BJP's chief strategist, of calling and intimidating collectors and district magistrates in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

"So far he has spoken to 150 of them. This is blatant and brazen intimidation, showing how desperate the BJP is... Officers should not get under any pressure and must uphold the Constitution. They are under watch," Ramesh's post read.

The Election Commission promptly addressed the issue, stating they had received no complaints and demanded that Ramesh produce evidence.

"You, being a responsible, experienced, and very senior leader of a National Party, must have made such a public statement, just before the day of counting, based on facts/information you believe to be true," the Commission wrote.

"It is requested that details of 150 DMs to whom such calls have been allegedly made by the Home Minister, along with the factual matrix/basis of your information, are shared," the Commission stated. Ramesh was initially given until 7 pm yesterday to respond, to which he requested more time.

"As you are aware, the process of counting of votes is a sacred duty cast upon every RO, and such public statements by you tend to put an element of doubt and thus deserve to be addressed in the larger public interest," the Election Commission added.

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