Rahul takes Kanpur by storm but faces poll code breach charge

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Monday took Kanpur by storm, but faced a case for violating the model code of conduct. Denying the charge, the Congress accused the district administration of trying to stop his programme at the Mayawati government's behest. Gandhi faced the charge after choosing to undertake a longer road-show than what the district administration had permitted him. "Mr. Rahul Gandhi clearly violated the permission that was granted by the administration for his road-show. Hence a case has been registered against him under sections of the IPC for disobeying prohibitory orders, causing danger and obstruction to the city roads and creating nuisance," District Magistrate Hari Om told reporters "We had to observe caution also on account of Shivratri today (Monday)," he said.
According to the official, Gandhi was granted permission to undertake his road-show along a 20- km route against the party's application for covering a 37-km route. No sooner than the administration's decision was conveyed to Gandhi at the Circuit House, he instantly drove out and chose to move on the route he had planned for his road-show. Accompanied by Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal, who is also the local Congress MP, Gandhi rode on the gate of a bus, waving out to the crowds, who had gathered in large numbers everywhere he went. Unlike Lucknow where his road-show last week turned out to be a damp squib, Gandhi drew huge crowds along the entire route that covered each of the district's six state assembly constituencies. as the motorcade slowed down at the busy Ramadevi crossing, an old woman got close and offered him a garland. People, including women and children could be seen perched on rooftops and balconies to catch a glimpse of Rahul, who waved out at them in acknowledgement of their greetings. Congress flags, banners and buntings were visible all along the route, where many people showered flower petals on him, while Congress activists raised chants of "Rahul Gandhi aaye hain, nayi roshni laye hain (Rahul Gandhi has come to show a new light)." State Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi denied there was any violation of the model code of conduct as during the mass contact programme, Gandhi neither addressed a meeting, nor took out a procession. Accusing the district administration of trying to stop Gandhi's programme at Mayawati's behest, she said the party had apprised the Election Commission of the matter. In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Gandhi had not committed any illegality and a legitimate campaign is a fundamental part of free democratic rights. "Appropriate legal proceedings shall be taken in this regard," said Singhvi, who heads the party's legal affairs department and was apparently consulted by Gandhi following the district officials action. Jaiswal dared the authorities can file an FIR against him. "I had invited Rahul Gandhi for the roadshow. Let the authorities file an FIR against me," he said. Kanpur will go to polls in the fifth phase of polling Feb 23.


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