Editorial : Space for campaign: On PM Modi’s address on ASAT test

EC went by rule book on ASAT issue, but PM should have upheld the spirit of Model Code
In ruling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not violate(उल्लंघन ) the Model Code of Conduct(आचरण/व्यवहार) by announcing through a nationally televised(प्रसारित ) address the demonstration(प्रदर्शन/अभिव्यक्ति) of India’scapability(क्षमता/योग्यता) to bring down an operational satellite, the Election Commission has taken a possibly(संभवतः )correct view of the Code’s provisions(प्रावधान).
However, it remains a narrow technical view as it is a thin line that divides the idea of making a high-level(उच्च स्तरीय) declaration(घोषणा/एलान) of a defence capability from using it for electoral(चुनावी ) advantage.(फायदा) advantage. Opposition(विपक्षी ) parties(दल) had accused the Prime Minister of violating the Model Code by touting the demonstration of the anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test as a significant(महत्वपूर्ण ) achievement(उपलब्धि) of the ruling BJP. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had formally complained(शिकायत करना) to the EC. There were questions about the timing of the test as well as the manner of announcement as the country is in election mode. A five-member committee formed by the EC concluded(निष्कर्ष निकाला/समाप्त होना) that the relevant(उचित/अनुरूप) provision was not attracted in this case. Part VII of the Code covering the “party in power” says that “…the misuse(दुरुपयोग) of official mass media during(दौरान/अवधि में) the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity(प्रचार) regarding achievements with a view to furthering(आगे बढ़ाना) the prospects(संभावनाओं ) of the party in power shall be scrupulously(बारीकी से/राजनीति ) avoided(टालना/बचा).” The committee’s finding that there was no “misuse of official mass media” as Doordarshan and AIR took the feed from a news agency, and more than 60 channels did the same, is rooted in the letter of the code, not its spirit(भाव/साहस) .
It is possible to come to an equally(समान ) valid conclusion that Mr. Modi’s action in making the announcement himself, rather(बजाय) than letting the DRDO, the agency involved(शामिल), do so violates the bar on “furthering the prospects” of the ruling party by the nature of the publicity given to the achievement. The practice(अभ्यास/अमल) of using a private agency to record the announcement and asking it to share the feed , obliquely(विशिष्ट रूप से तिरछे) serves the purpose of generating publicity through the official media. As the legal maxim goes, what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly either. Given that Mr. Modi gave advance publicity to the announcement, there is really no virtue(गुण/ख़ूबी) in claiming(दावा ) that DD and AIR were not used for the purpose. As a landmark(ऐतिहासिक) achievement(उपलब्धि) in defence research, it deserved a public pronouncement(सार्वजनिक घोषणा) at a high level. Even then, letting the DRDO explain the achievement first would have served the purpose. That the motive(प्रेरणा/उद्देश्य) was to proclaim(प्रचार/प्रकाशित करना) the ASAT demonstration as an achievement of the regime in the field of national security became obvious(स्पष्ट/ज़ाहिर ) when it was propagated(प्रसारित) by the ruling party that its predecessor(पूर्ववर्ती/पूर्वज) did not have the political will to approve such a test. The BJP must demonstrate it will not use such achievements for partisan(पक्षपातपूर्ण ) advantage(लाभ).

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Designed By : Satnam Gill