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Congress Writes to ECI on Modi's Rajasthan Speech, Seeks His Disqualification

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, who was part of the delegation that submitted the complaint, said the ECI “is on trial” now as the entire nation was waiting to see whether action would be taken against Modi for brazenly violating the model code of conduct by targeting Muslims.
File photo. Credit: X/@INCIndia.

New Delhi: The Congress today asked the Election Commission of India (ECI), which it said has stubbornly demonstrated its reluctance to act against Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite serious violations of the model code of conduct over the last decade, whether any other candidate can be accorded the same privilege.

In a petition seeking Modi’s immediate disqualification as a candidate in the election for his repeated violations – including an incendiary speech he made at Rajasthan’s Banswara on Sunday (April 21) – the Congress said, “The commission must ask itself if the same leeway would be granted to any other candidate if he so arrogantly and repeatedly defied the laws of our country.”

While the petition recalled that this was not the first time the prime minister invoked religion to make divisive and hate-filled statements in his campaign, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, who was part of the delegation that submitted the complaint, said the ECI “is on trial” now as the entire nation was waiting to see whether action would be taken against Modi for attacking the constitutional ethos of the country and brazenly violating the model code of conduct by targeting Muslims and using religious symbols to influence voters.

Singhvi insisted that these were not normal violations of the model code, adding that India’s image as a mature democracy and the credibility of the ECI were at stake.

The petition said, “At the outset, it must be stated that Narendra Modi and the BJP have deliberately and repeatedly invoked religion, religious symbols and religious sentiments in its election campaign and the same is being done without any impunity.

“These actions have been further bolstered by the commission’s inaction in penalising the prime minister and the BJP for their blatant and direct violations of electoral laws.”

Also read: Election Commission Declines Comment as Modi Gives His Most Divisive Speech in 30 Years

Pointing to Modi’s speech at a public rally at Banswara, the petition said, “While we have objections to the entire tone and tenor of the prime minister’s speech, in this representation we wish to highlight the completely unprecedented and malicious allegations as well [as] statements which are clearly aimed at creating enmity between groups, far worse than any ever made by a sitting prime minister in the history of India.

“This cannot go unchecked, unanswered and unpunished. He said,

Aur phele jab unki sarkar thi unhone kaha tha ki desh ki sampati par pehla adhikar Musalmaano ka hain. Isska matlab, yeh sampati ikhatti karke kiskon baatengay? Jinke zyaada bacche hain unko baatengay. Ghupathisyon ko baatengay. Kya aapki mehnat ki kamai ka paisa ghupathisyon ko diya jaayega? Apko manzoor hain yeh? Yeh Congress ka manifesto keh raha hain ki woh maata aur behno ke sone ka hisaab karengay, uski jardi karengay, jaankari lengay aur phir uss sampati ko baat dengay. Aur unko baatenge jinko Manmohan ji ki sarkar ne kaaha tha ki saampatti par pehla adhikar Musalmaano ka hain.

Bhaiyon aur Beheno, yeh Urban Naxal ki soch, meri maatoan aur beehno, yeh aapka mangalsutra bhi bachne nahin deengay, yahaan tak jaayengay main kehne aaya hun.”

What the prime minister was trying to say is that the Congress manifesto promises to snatch the wealth of the people – the gold and silver of the ‘mothers and sisters’ – and distribute the same among infiltrators. Not even the ‘mangalsutra’, which is a symbol of married Hindu women, would be spared, he said.

He appeared to describe Muslims, who according to him produce more children, as infiltrators. The prime minister describing legitimate citizens of India as infiltrators emboldened his followers on social media to launch a diatribe against Muslims.

The Congress in its petition said, “Narendra Modi has made false and divisive insinuations, targeted at a particular religious community and a clear provocation to the general public to act out and breach peace, potentially against such a religious community.

“He tried to mislead the voters by making these false and unverified which he knows are untrue and the Congress of supporting terrorists. There is no nuance here and the prime minister while making these claims is clearly aware of what he is trying to achieve – to malign, defame and perpetuate falsehoods against the Congress party.”

The party continued to say: “The only available remedy compatible with the principle of zero-tolerance towards allegations of corrupt practices, is the disqualification of the candidates who try to create a divide between different classes of citizens of India regardless of the stature or position of that candidate.

“We hope that the commission treats this situation with the gravity it deserves. This is not a candidate who will be silenced by a simple censure.”

The Congress recalled several other complaints regarding the misuse of religious symbols by the prime minister and lamented that not even show-cause notices were sent to him, let alone any punitive action being taken against him.

Its petition said, “With great humility at our command, we may point out the cardinal maxim of every democracy – ‘Howsoever high you may be, the law is above you’.

“The prime minister has to be held accountable for the brazen trampling of the model code of conduct as well as the whole gamut of offences – electoral and otherwise – committed by him and his party.

“If this commission fails to rise to the challenge of upholding the law in the face of these defiant, deliberate and brazen violations being committed by the prime minister, the commission risks tarnishing its legacy and abandoning its constitutional duty by setting a precedent of helpless inaction that will go down in infamy.”

It added: “In the present case, the prime minister’s statement is not only violative of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the model code of conduct, [the] Indian Penal Code, [and the election] commission’s instructions, but also forms a part of larger and grossly problematic strategy of maliciously creat[ing] enmity on grounds of religion and also tarnish[ing] the principal opposition party based on rank falsehoods with a view to adversely impact the minds of the voters.

“Coming from a person holding the high office of the Prime Minister of India, any voter would get influenced. Hence, the gravity of the offence is even more serious/egregious given that it is the Prime Minister of India who is making these false and reckless statements.”

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