No More Viksit Bharat Messages On WhatsApp, Election Commission Tells Govt

The Election Commission of India (ECI) directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Thursday to halt the delivery of “Viksit Bharat” messages on WhatsApp as the Model Code Of Conduct (MCC) is enforced ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

What Happened: The directive came after the ECI received complaints about the continued delivery of messages showcasing the government’s initiatives despite the MCC being in effect.

Previously, MeitY had informed the ECI that the WhatsApp messages were dispatched on March 15, before the MCC came into effect. However, MeitY mentioned that due to system architecture and network limitations, some messages might have experienced delayed delivery.

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In response, the ECI instructed MeitY to ensure no further delivery of WhatsApp messages occurs during the MCC period. The ECI emphasised that despite the MCC being in force, complaints persist regarding the continued delivery of such messages to citizens’ phones. MeitY was directed to comply with the directive and furnish a compliance report promptly.

Why It Matters: On Monday, opposition parties raised concerns about people receiving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter via WhatsApp soliciting support for “Viksit Bharat”. They deemed this as a clear violation of the MCC, which became effective immediately after the election announcement.

The opposition has also questioned the ministry’s acquisition of mobile numbers, considering it a violation of both the MCC and the Right to Privacy.

The ECI had announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls on March 16. The 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be conducted in seven phases between April 19 and June 1, with vote counting slated for June 4.

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