EC seeks Cong leader’s speech recording from Katihar DM; CPM demands action against Modi for Sabarimala remark
Notwithstanding the Election Commission’s action against leaders for using religion to seek votes, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has triggered a controversy by urging Muslim voters of Katihar Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar to vote en bloc and defeat (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi.
Campaigning for veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Tariq Anwar in Katihar, Sidhu appealed Muslim voters, saying, “This will be sixer. Hit such a sixer that Modi is sent out of the boundary.”
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) wrote to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora demanding action against PM Modi for allegedly violating the model code of conduct and communally polarising voters by making remarks on the Sabarimala issue. In a letter to the CEC, party Politburo member Nilotpal Basu said the remarks made by the PM were a “flagrant violation” of the model code of conduct.
Sources in the EC said the Commission has sought a report, including recording of Sidhu’s speech from the District Magistrate of Katihar. A video footage of Sidhu’s comments in the remote area was beamed by TV news channels on Tuesday.
“Do not consider yourself as being in a minority. You constitute the majority here. You are about 64 per cent. Do not fall into the trap laid down by people like Owaisi (president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen). They have been propped up by the BJP. Recognise your strength and vote en bloc to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Sidhu had said.
The comments by the Congress leader and Punjab Minister at a rally in Katihar drew an angry response from the BJP, which condemned the “reprehensible act”, and urged the EC to take “suo motu cognizance” and take action.
Lambasting the Congress, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It is part of the Congress’ DNA to divide. It is not a new norm in this party.”
He attacked Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for her criticism of the saffron party over its interpretation of nationalism. How does Sidhu’s call to 64 per cent population in Katihar, Muslims, help the country in the unity attempt, he asked.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi hit out at Sidhu, saying, “Who were you trying to unite for so many years when you were in the BJP? Your party might be new but the backwardness of Seemanchal is an age old story.”
In a following tweet, Owaisi wrote, “AIMIM wants the progress of all Seemanchal, the Congress is still campaigning on the baasi (rotten) programme of ‘BJP ka darr’.”
The Punjab Minister, who has been campaigning for his party in the Seemanchal region of Bihar, appeared to have mixed up Katihar with neighboring Kishanganj where Muslims are in the majority and AIMIM has put up a candidate.
Meanwhile, referring the Modi’s speech in a rally in Theni in Tamil Nadu in which Modi had said the Left and the Muslim League are playing a dangerous game on Sabarimala, and are initiating “to strike at the root of faith and aspiration”, the CPI(M) leader said that the remarks made by the PM were a “flagrant violation” of the model code of conduct. “Bringing in the question of faith and accusing the LDF Government in Kerala, the Prime Minster was trying to appeal to the people belonging to the ‘faith’ which is clearly against MCC, as well as, your specific order,” Basu said, urging the poll body to take immediate appropriate action against Modi.