By Arpan Rai

India’s election commission has served only a gentle rebuke to prime minister Narendra Modi, as well as to the primary opposition Congress party, for making divisive speeches during the campaign for the ongoing general election, leaving critics who accuse the watchdog of favouring the ruling party unimpressed.

At a campaign rally in western Rajasthan state last month, Mr Modi told the country’s Hindus that the Congress party, if elected, would “snatch away” their wealth and give it to the Muslim minority, inviting widespread condemnation and complaints to the election body.

The watchdog, in a break from its usual practice, sent a notice to Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and not to him personally. Nonetheless, it was the first time in India’s independent history that the commission had recognised a complaint against a sitting prime minister.

It did the same when a complaint was made against Mr Modi’s chief rival Rahul Gandhi for allegedly making “false allegations” on the campaign trail, including that the ruling party would change India’s constitution if it won a third term in power, sending a notice to his Congress party.

Now, almost a month later, the commission has ticked off Mr Modi for his election rhetoric, saying both his and Mr Gandhi’s defences were “not tenable”.

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