Taking strong exception to Narendra Modi addressing Rahul Gandhi as “Shehzada”, Congress on Saturday did some tough talking as it threatened that its workers were capable of stopping such “undignified” language but were restrained due to respect for laws and the Model Code.
The ruling party said its vice-president should be addressed in the same manner in which he addresses people with respect as use of words like “Shehzada” will not be tolerated.
Defending Mr. Gandhi’s recent election speeches where he had invoked Muzaffarnagar riots, the Congress said the motive behind MR. Gandhi’s remarks should be understood as he said communalism in any form should be opposed and condemned.
“The way Rahul Gandhi is being addressed and criticised by the use of language -- words like ‘Shehzada’ and alike, this conduct is not dignified in a democracy.
“Congress workers are not reacting out of respect for the Model Code of Conduct and laws of the country and are thus quiet. Otherwise, the use of such words can be stopped in two days. We don’t want such a situation to arrive,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said, without naming Mr. Modi.
He said the way Mr. Gandhi and Congress leaders address people with respect, it is expected that others also use similar words to address them.
The Congress leader was reacting to Mr. Modi’s remarks made on Friday in Jhansi where he attacked Mr. Gandhi for saying that ISI was in touch with Muslim youth of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and dared him to reveal the identity of such persons or apologise publicly for levelling “serious allegations” and “defaming” the entire community.
Mr. Modi has also been using “Shehzada” to address Mr. Gandhi publicly in the recent past.
Mr. Dwivedi said fundamentalism of any form gives rise to communalism which is not good for the country and no one should rake up such issues irresponsibly in national interest.
“We have been seeing for a long time now that some people do politics even on very sensitive issues,” Mr. Dwivedi stressed, adding that Mr. Gandhi had said communalism in any form should be opposed.
Attacking the BJP, the Congress general secretary said issues which do not have any meaning are being blown out of proportion in a bid to seek political mileage.
The BJP has petitioned the Election Commission for Mr. Gandhi’s attack against it and for accusing the saffron party of spreading hatred in society by flaring up communalism.
“If a Hindu spreads communalism and hatred and suspects every Muslim, then he is supporting cross-border forces which are anti-India.
“Similarly, a Muslim fundamentalist is also strengthening the hands of those organisations which are spreading communalism and hatred in the country, though I do not wish to name them,” Mr. Dwivedi said while seeking to explain the context of Gandhi’s hatred remarks.
He said anyone who thinks in national interest and about the country, should not “irresponsibly” rake up such issues.
“Is there anyone, even those who instigated riots, having the moral courage to say that communalism is a good thing and claim that they have indulged in riots,” he said, questioning if there was anyone who was not ashamed of Muzaffarnagar riots or other similar incidents.
Accusing Mr. Gandhi of “inciting riotous behaviour” through his speeches at poll rallies, BJP has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission seeking action against him and Congress for “willful and blatant” violation of Model Code.
The EC is currently scanning Mr. Gandhi’s speeches and have sought their copy along with a report from poll officials.
In a no-holds-barred attack on the BJP in rallies in Churu and Alwar in poll-bound Rajasthan, Mr. Gandhi alleged its “politics of anger and hate” was fanning communal tensions and damaging the country’s secular fabric.
The Congress vice-president also invoked the recent Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh in which 62 people were killed to target the saffron party, saying such communal violence causes terrorism.