The Congress has criticised the BJP for defending its Uttar Pradesh in-charge Amit Shah for his alleged “hate speech.”

Referring to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s appeal to the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, the BJP had said it was the Congress that was communalising the elections.

Terming it a “flagrant and crude” justification, the Congress said Ms. Gandhi’s meeting with Shahi Imam was part of her move to interact with the leadership of all faiths.

Meanwhile, in a separate petition to the Election Commission, the CPI(M) said Mr. Shah’s speeches, aimed at spreading hatred between communities, were not just a violation of the model code of conduct but also a criminal act.‘Politically motivated’Slamming the Samajwadi Party’s decision to file an FIR against Mr. Shah, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move was “politically motivated.”‘Why no action against Azam Khan?’“SP leader Azam Khan and Congress’ Beni Prasad Verma have been making provocative speeches which are communal, but no action has been taken against them. The FIR is a misuse of police powers and a calculated design of the SP government to polarise and communalise the political scene of Uttar Pradesh,” Mr. Prasad alleged.

“Muzaffarnagar violence would not have spread had the Samajwadi Party government and the police taken action. Ministers in Lucknow stopped the police from taking action. There is a feeling of pain and hurt in the people in Muzaffarnagar over the SP government’s inaction and this is what Mr. Shah was referring to when he said voters should use the occasion to express their sense of agony and pain. Mr. Shah said election is an instrument to ensure people’s pain is addressed,” Mr. Prasad said.

He also accused the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party of colluding with the SP.Petition against VasundharaThe Congress, which had made a similar petition on Saturday, approached the EC on Sunday demanding action against Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly issuing open threats. Referring to Congress’s Saharanpur candidate Imran Masood’s threat to cut BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi to pieces, she is reported to have said, “let the elections be over, we will see who is cut into pieces.’’

While there was no official word from the EC on petitions filed by the Congress, sources maintained that the matter was being examined.

Even as the Congress accused the BJP of returning to its core agenda of communal polarisation, there is apprehension that the party maybe playing into the hands of the Hindutva forces by keeping the tempo up on the communalisation of the elections. “If we remain silent on Mr. Shah’s statements and Cobrapost sting operation findings that the Babri Masjid demolition was a meticulously planned operation, then we would be accused of soft on Hindutva,” said a party leader, indicating the dilemma faced by the Congress.

Stating that BJP represented a cocktail of “communalism and crony capitalism,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, “The BJP’s agenda is to swallow the idea of India just like Mr. Modi has swallowed up the BJP.’’

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