Karnataka Assembly elections | BJP asks ECI to file criminal case against Kharge for ‘poisonous snake’ remark

The BJP termed Mr. Kharge’s comments as “hate politics” and demanded that an FIR be filed charging him with defamation; the Congress chief said his comments were aimed at the BJP as a party and not the PM personally

April 28, 2023 07:46 pm | Updated 07:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge speaks during a public meeting ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections on April 27, 2023.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge speaks during a public meeting ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections on April 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP on April 28 asked the Election Commission to file a criminal case against Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and bar him from campaigning for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly election, over his comment comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a “poisonous snake” while addressing an election rally on April 27.

Mr. Kharge had later clarified that his remarks were not aimed at Mr. Modi, but at the BJP as a party.

A BJP delegation led by Union Minister for Labour Bhupender Yadav went to the Election Commission on April 28 and submitted a memorandum demanding the registration of an FIR under Indian Penal Code Sections 499 and 500, which deal with defamation, and Section 504, which deals with the offence of deliberate insults and provocation.

‘Hate politics’

Accusing the Congress of trying to spread disharmony ahead of the crucial Karnataka Assembly poll, Mr. Yadav said that the comment was not merely a slip of the tongue but a concerted effort at hate politics.

BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh, who was also part of the delegation, accused the Congress president of being a habitual offender. He claimed that many other Congress leaders have also made hateful personal attacks against the Prime Minister.

“Election Commission is empowered under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to ensure that no one indulges in making false, unverified, baseless allegations to violate electoral laws and indulge in behaviour which tear apart the sanctity of the MCC [Model Code of Conduct],” said the BJP’s memorandum to the ECI. “Comparing anyone to a poisonous snake in Indian society projects such an individual as an enemy, untrustworthy, unfaithful, treacherous, and deceitful,” it added.

‘Abusive language’

“Use of such vulgar and abusive language to tarnish the image of a respected Prime Minister clearly shows the level to which the Congress has plummeted.... Such perverse pronouncements, if not checked effectively, will not only vitiate the electoral atmosphere, but will also further encourage the Congress rank and file in lowering the levels of propriety of the quality of political discourse,” it said.

The Karnataka Assembly election is scheduled to be held on May 10, and the results will be declared on May 13.

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