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EC Directs X to Remove Karnataka BJP's Hate Video, No Action Yet Against BJP

After votes were cast in Karnataka in the third phase of voting, the EC has made public a letter asking X to take down the video in question, which was posted on Saturday and openly demonises Muslims.
The Election Commission building in New Delhi. Photo: Twitter/@PIB_INDIA. November 5, 2022.

New Delhi: Three days after it was first posted and thirty minutes before polling in Karnataka’s remaining seats closed, the Election Commission (EC) released a statement asking X (formerly Twitter) to take down a video posted by the BJP’s Karnataka unit that openly incited hatred against Muslims.

In its communication to X, the EC said the video is “violative of the extant legal framework”.

It has so far not communicated any action to be taken against the BJP for posting the video.

The video is animated and depicts Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah placing a large egg labelled ‘Muslims’ in a nest already containing smaller eggs labelled ‘SC’, ‘ST’ and ‘OBC’ respectively.

Once the eggs have hatched, Gandhi feeds all his ‘funds’ to the disproportionately larger, skull-capped and bearded ‘Muslim’ hatchling, which goes on to shove the others outside their nest. Gandhi, Siddaramaiah and the Muslim hatchling then share a laugh.

The EC’s letter comes three days after the video was posted and just as all the remaining seats in Karnataka went to the polls in the third phase of voting on Tuesday.

In its letter, the EC also shared a notice Karnataka’s cybercrime division sent to X on Sunday saying the commission had directed the video’s removal on the grounds that it violated the model code of conduct and as well as the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

The Congress’s Karnataka unit filed a complaint regarding the video to police in Bengaluru, following which an FIR was filed against BJP president J.P. Nadda, its IT cell chief Amit Malviya and its Karnataka state chief B.Y. Vijayendra.

“The act of the accused person is clearly with an intention to wantonly provocate rioting and promote enmity between different religions and is prejudicial to maintenance of harmony apart from intimidating members of SC/ST community not to vote for particular candidate and causing enmity against members of SC/ST community,” the Karnataka Congress’s media and communication chairman Ramesh Babu said in the complaint.

The model code of conduct bars appeals “to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”, while section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act deems the use of religion to seek votes as “corrupt practice”.

The Karnataka BJP’s video came days after an animated video shared by the BJP’s official Instagram handle on Tuesday (April 30), which directly named and targeted Muslim Indians was removed on May 1.

However, it is unclear whether the video was taken down by the party itself or by Instagram.

A large number of Instagram users said that they had reported the video for “false information” and “hate speech”.

Both videos come after claims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaign speeches that the Congress was planning to ‘steal’ reservations from SCs, STs and OBCs and redistribute them to Muslims.

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