BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday demanded that the Election Commission revoke the ban on Amit Shah, a close aide of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, arguing that the order came even before the expiry of the deadline for him to reply to the EC’s show-cause.
The EC order followed Mr. Shah’s “revenge” remark at an election meeting in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.
“Mr. Shah was given time till this evening [Saturday] to reply to the notice. The BJP has the highest regard for the EC’s authority, but we are deeply saddened by the order on Mr. Shah. The EC should rethink its order and revoke it,” Mr. Prasad told a press conference here.
He said the party would explore legal options but remained non-committal on what its action would be if the order was not revoked.
Defending Mr. Shah’s speech and work as in-charge of the BJP in U.P., Mr. Prasad said the EC’s “anger” against the Samajwadi Party Urban Development Minister Azam Khan’s inflammatory speeches was misdirected at Mr. Shah.
“The BJP genuinely feels Mr. Shah did not say anything to violate the EC’s model code of conduct. There is no provocation for violence. All he said was if the people felt insulted by the conduct of the Samajwadi Party and Congress governments, then they should press the button [to vote]. United States President Barack Obama said in a speech in Ohio take your revenge by voting. The EC is actually angry about Mr. Khan’s inflammatory statements and the inaction of the U.P. machinery. It does not say that of Mr. Shah. Then why is he made to pay the price? The BJP is deeply anguished by this comparison of Mr. Shah’s speech with the provocative and instigating speeches of Mr. Khan and the complete inaction of the U.P. government,” Mr. Prasad said.
On the claims made in the book by Sanjaya Baru, former media adviser of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Prasad said they validated the BJP’s charge that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi “deliberately compromised the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister.” The book, The Accidental Prime Minister, reportedly talks about the power equation between Dr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi.
As for the controversy over Mr. Modi’s admission, in his election affidavit, of his marital status and Mr. Gandhi’s criticism, Mr. Prasad said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had not put his wife’s name in his affidavit for nomination for the Rajya Sabha election.
“It is a tradition in our country not to delve into personal matters. It is becoming a general view that Mr. Gandhi has a poor understanding of politics and our tradition. The BJP does not go into family matters. Many things can be said about the Gandhi family and Congress Ministers as well,” Mr. Prasad said.