DNA TV Show: Why did election officials check Rahul Gandhi's helicopter in Tamil Nadu?

Rahul Gandhi was on his way to his parliamentary constituency, Kerala's Wayanad, where he has a slew of campaign activities, including public meetings.

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DNA TV Show: Why did election officials check Rahul Gandhi's helicopter in Tamil Nadu?

Election Commission (EC) officials on Monday conducted checks in a helicopter carrying Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.  Gandhi was on his way to his parliamentary constituency, Kerala's Wayanad, where he was scheduled to attend a slew of road shows and public meetings.

As per reports, “the flying squad officials searched after the helicopter landed here," police said.

Later, as part of his two-day trip to the state, he hosted a roadshow in Wayanad, where the previous head of Congress arrived.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also in Kerala on April 15 as part of his election campaigning. He is scheduled to participate in a second election rally in Thrissur after attending one in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

But can the Election Commission search the Prime Minister's helicopter?

During the Lok Sabha elections 2019, PM Modi reached Sambalpur, Odisha on 16 April 2019 to hold a rally. Then the Flying Squad of the Election Commission searched Prime Minister Modi's helicopter in the same way as today Rahul Gandhi's helicopter has been searched.

At that time, IAS Mohammad Mohsin was leading the Flying Squad that searched the Prime Minister's helicopter and was appointed Chief Observer by the Election Commission.

Then BJP complained to the Election Commission about the search for the Prime Minister's helicopter. After which IAS Mohsin was suspended.

The reason given in his suspension letter was that IAS Mohsin violated the protocol related to SPG-protected persons and neglected his duty...

To suspend IAS Mohsin, the Election Commission had said that he disregarded Guideline No. 76 of 2019 and Guideline No. 464 of the Election Instructions of 2014.

Guidelines related to the use of vehicles by candidates during election campaigns are:

No candidate can use government vehicles in his election campaign.

However, the Prime Minister and other SPG-protected persons are exempted from this. which means the PM can use government vehicles during the election campaign.

But can any election officer, PM, or SPG protectee check the vehicle? There are no clear instructions from the Election Commission in this regard.

The Election Commission never clarified why the IAS officer who searched the Prime Minister's helicopter was suspended. However, his suspension was later revoked. Because the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), while defending IAS Mohsin. SPG protectees should be provided with proper assurance of safety and security. But it cannot be said that they are eligible for anything and everything

Then questions were raised on the impartiality of the Election Commission regarding the suspension of the IAS officer who inspected the Prime Minister's helicopter. And these questions were not raised only by the opposition parties.

The former Election Commissioner of India SY Qureshi had said on social media that suspending the IAS officer posted in Odisha for investigating the Prime Minister's helicopter is not only unfortunate but also a good opportunity to improve the image of the Election Commission and the Prime Minister himself. SY Qureshi had said that the raid on the Prime Minister's helicopter should have shown that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. By doing this, the criticisms of both the Election Commission and the Prime Minister could have been answered.

Another interesting thing is that, a day before the inspection of Prime Minister Modi's helicopter in Sambalpur, Odisha, a video of the then Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had gone viral. In which he was seen getting angry at the Flying Squad of the Election Commission. Because the Flying Squad team had come to search his helicopter.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the helicopter of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was also checked. Like the last Lok Sabha elections, this time too the Flying Squads of the Election Commission...are busy checking the vehicles and helicopters of the leaders engaged in the election campaign...and this time there has been a controversy over the search of Rahul Gandhi's helicopter..and Questions are being raised once again on the intentions of the Election Commission...

There has been no official statement from the Election Commission on the questions of opposition parties on the search for Rahul Gandhi's helicopter. But without naming names the Election Commission has clarified. The Election Commission has issued a statement saying that -

In the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu, the Election Commission had suspended the Flying Squad for selective checking of the convoy of a senior leader and dereliction of duty. Similarly, the officials had also searched the vehicles of the Chief Minister of one state and the Deputy Chief Minister of another state.

That is, without mentioning any incident, the Election Commission has clarified that it is not selective in the matter of searching the convoys and vehicles of leaders.

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