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Election Commission asks Govt to stop ‘Viksit Bharat’ WhatsApp message, seeks compliance report

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday asked the Government of India to stop sending WhatsApp text messages to citizens seeking their feedback on the PM Modi’s ‘Viksit Bharat’ agenda and sought a compliance report in this regard ‘immediately’. This is a step taken by the ECI to ensure a level-playing field in the Lok Sabha elections.
With the announcement of the Loksabha Elections 2024 and the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) entering into force, the ECI has directed the government to stop sending the WhatsApp messages highlighting the government’s initiatives for citizens’ welfare during the MCC period. The WhatsApp message sought feedback and suggestions from citizens related to government schemes and policies.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has offered an explanation to the ECI saying the letters were sent out before MCC period, but due to system architecture and network limitations it is possible that some letters have a delayed delivery. The ECI in its letter on Thursday has replied saying is has received several complaints that such messages are still being delivered on citizens’ phones.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) says

In a letter addressed to the Government of India dated 21st March 2024, the ECI mentions, “The Commission has received complaints from various quarters that such messages are still being delivered on citizens’ phones. Since the MCC is now in force, you are hereby directed to ensure forthwith that no further delivery of ‘WhatsApp messages’ take place during MCC period. A compliance report in this regard may be sent immediately.”

The Government’s WhatsApp text for Indian citizens

A WhatsApp text message dated 15th March 2024 was floated by the government for Indian citizens seeking their feedback on ‘Viksit Bharat’. The text message reads, ‘Namaste, This letter has been sent by the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji. In the previous 10 years, all 140 crore Indians have benefited from the various schemes and policies of the Government, and will continue to do so in the future as well. Your participation is critical as we, together as one Family, work towards fulfilling our aspiration of a Viksit Bharat. You are therefore requested to kindly share Feedback and Suggestions on your vision of Viksit Bharat’.
There is a PDF attachment with the text message which talks about Government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, Matru Vandana Yojana and initiatives like implementation of GST, abrogation of Article 370, Triple Talaq law, nari Shakti Vandan Act and steps taken to combat terrorism and left-wing extremism in the last 10 years.

The opposition says

The opposition has called PM Modi’s Viksit Bharat Sampark letter a “blatant violation” of the model code of conduct.

Lok Sabha Election 2024

The 2024 Lok Sabha Elections will be held in seven different phases, starting from April 19 till June 1 as announced by the Election Commission on 16th March. The counting of votes will be done on June 4.
Twenty one states and Union territories will hold polls in the first phase, 13 in the 2nd phase, 12 in the 3rd phase, 10 in the 4th phase, 8 in the 5th phase, 7 in the 6th phase and 8 in the final phase. The states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will go to elections in all the seven phases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who seeks a third term has set a target of 370 seats for the ruling BJP and 400 seats for the NDA this time.