MCC violations already? PM Modi's WhatsApp campaign under radar; Will 'Shayar' CEC take action?

The controversy stems from the circulation of bulk messages via WhatsApp under the banner of 'Viksit Bharat Sampark', accompanied by a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Courtesy: Viksit Bharat Sampark

New Delhi: Chandigarh's electoral authorities have raised concerns regarding the mass dissemination of WhatsApp messages by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), potentially violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The issue has been escalated to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for further scrutiny and action.

What is the alleged violation?

The controversy stems from the circulation of bulk messages via WhatsApp under the banner of 'Viksit Bharat Sampark', accompanied by a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The letter, largely emphasizing the government's achievements over the past decade, solicited feedback from the recipients.

Complaints and investigation

Following a complaint filed through the ECI's C-Vigil App by a Chandigarh resident, alleging misuse of official government channels during the election period, the matter was investigated. Vinay Pratap Singh, Chandigarh's returning officer, confirmed that the District Media Certification & Monitoring Committee identified the issue as a prima facie case of MCC violation.

Referred to Election Commission of India

Given the nationwide implications of the issue, Chandigarh authorities referred it to the ECI for necessary action. The involvement of the Government of India and Meta (formerly Facebook), coupled with the international reach of the messages, warranted scrutiny at the national level.

Opposition reacts

Opposition leaders, including Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, have raised concerns about the misuse of government machinery for partisan political interests. Tharoor called for the ECI to intervene, highlighting the breach of privacy and potential data misuse associated with the campaign.

International reach and privacy concerns

Reports surfaced of individuals from various countries, including the UAE and the UK, receiving the unsolicited messages. Tewari questioned the source of mobile numbers used in the campaign, pointing to potential unauthorized access to personal data.

The controversy surrounding Modi's WhatsApp campaign underscores the intersection of technology, privacy, and electoral ethics. As the ECI deliberates on the matter, questions linger about the accountability of political parties in leveraging digital platforms for electioneering purposes.