Congress moves Madras High Court against PM Modi's meditation in Kanyakumari, terms it misuse of position to canvass votes

The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) has filed an application in the Madras High Court seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to take necessary steps to prevent alleged misuse of position by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his meditation at the Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari from May 30 to June 1, 2024.

The Prime Minister is observing a 45-hour-long Dhyan (meditation) at the Vivekananda Rock starting on the evening of May 30, 2024. As part of the PM's visit, security has been tightened at the site and entry of tourists has been restricted during these days.

The petition alleged that while no one could object to the PM's visit to Vivekananda Rock, his visit during the silent period on the final polling day of the seventh phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2024 was an attempt to 'whip up' Hindu sentiments and for 'canvassing' votes by misusing his official position.

It submitted that the seventh phase polling was scheduled to be held on June 1, 2024. The cooling period has already started, and any canvassing has to be stopped from the evening of May 30, 2024.

It further said that no political party or politician, including the Prime Minister, should be allowed to canvass or campaign in any form. 

Through his meditation, the Prime Minister was indirectly canvassing voters, noted the plea.

The Congress Committee alleged that broadcasting this meditation through the official media would amount to canvassing and violating the Code of Conduct, which was an election offence under the Representation of Peoples Act. It further submitted that if the Election Commission did not put an end to this programme, it would put the opposition parties in a position of disadvantage as they could not canvass during the cooling-off period.

The petition further stated that since the public has been prevented from visiting the place during the three days, the fundamental rights of the tourists to move freely and the rights of the persons engaged in business to earn a livelihood would also be affected.

It sought directions to the Election Commission of India to immediately take necessary steps to prevent the alleged misuse of official positions in the interest of free and fair elections during Phase VII. 

The plea further sought an interim direction to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, not to prevent tourists and Hindu devotees from visiting the Vivekananda Rock memorial during the PM's visit or close the business premises in any manner.

Since the High Court is currently on vacation and  expected to reopen on Monday, the Registry has not numbered the petition yet. The lawyers have also written to the Registrar General of the High Court seeking to move it as an urgent writ petition.