NEW DELHI: In a firm counter, Election Commission on Sunday asked Congress neta Jairam Ramesh to back up his charge that Amit Shah had been calling up and “intimidating” district magistrates (DMs), who are also returning officers (ROs), ahead of counting, and sought details of the DMs contacted by the home minister as well as the factual basis of his “information”.
In a letter to Ramesh on Sunday, EC noted that “the process of counting of votes is a sacred duty cast upon every RO and such public statements by a senior, responsible and experienced leader tend to put an element of doubt and thus, deserves to be addressed in larger public interest”. While underlining that no DM had reported any such attempt at undue influence, EC sought details and information from Ramesh that “he believes to be true”.
“You, being a responsible, experienced and very senior leader of a national party, must have made such public statement, just before the day of counting, based on facts/information you believe to be true. It is requested that details of 150 DMs to whom such calls have been allegedly made by the home minister along with the factual matrix/basis of your information are shared by 1900 hours today… ie June 2, so that appropriate action can be taken,” EC said in its letter to the Congress general secretary in charge of communications.
Significantly, EC has scheduled a press conference on Monday where it is likely to speak on several issues, including the “pattern” of doubts being raised on well-established electoral processes during general elections.
Ramesh had, in a post on X on Saturday, claimed that “the outgoing home minister has been calling up DMs/collectors and had spoken to 150 DMs thus far”. “This is blatant and brazen intimidation, showing how desperate the BJP is. Let it be very clear: the will of the people shall prevail, and on June 4, Modi, Shah, and BJP will exit, and the INDIA Janbandhan will be victorious. Officers should not get under any pressure and must uphold the Constitution. They are under watch,” he had said.
During the period of enforcement of model code of conduct, all officers are deemed to be on deputation to the EC and report directly to it.
EC has been proactive through this election in either rebutting uncorroborated allegations — as it did in the case of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s charge that there was mismanagement and delay in release of EVM data, even terming it a biased and deliberate attempt at spreading confusion.
“EC cannot be a mute spectator to ‘shoot and scoot’ attacks by politicians, especially when they tend to create confusion in the minds of voters about electoral processes or create a false narrative. People tend to believe senior leaders, who should be responsible and desist from making unverified claims and attacks,” an EC functionary said.
On Sunday, the Delhi chief electoral officer rebutted Congress neta Ajay Maken’s allegation — also made via a social media post — that the candidates’ counting agents would not be allowed at the assistant returning officer’s table. “It is clarified that counting agents of candidates are allowed at the tables of RO/AROs,” the Delhi CEO’s office posted on his official handle.

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