The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded immediate withdrawal of ‘national party’ recognition for the Congress for repeated violation of the Model Code of Conduct by party leaders at election rallies. Besides, the BJP also called for appropriate action against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘inflammatory’ election rally speeches.
Flagging the Churu speech of Mr. Gandhi, the BJP submitted a detailed memorandum to the Election Commission, drawing its attention to the portions that aimed at appealing for votes on communal lines. In the memorandum, the party reproduced the objectionable references in original in Hindi and pointed out that — instead of distancing itself from Mr. Gandhi’s speeches in Churu and Kherli — the Congress had posted them on its website, Facebook page and official YouTube channel.
Referring to Mr. Gandhi’s election rallies last week in Rajasthan, the BJP memorandum said he made “certain false and baseless allegations against the members of the BJP and made communal utterances, thereby inciting communal feelings of people of different communities, with the motive of obtaining maximum number of votes for his party.”
Of the view that the two speeches were in violation of Paragraph 1 (1) to (3) of the Model Code of Conduct, the BJP averred that “the entire tone of Mr. Gandhi’s speech was to incite communal hatred and tension between Hindu-Sikhs and Hindu-Muslims and make an appeal for votes in favour of Congress on the basis of communal sentiments.” Further, according to the BJP, a conscious attempt has been made by Mr. Gandhi to mislead the public by trying to discredit the BJP by making “absolutely false, baseless and unfounded allegations.”
The BJP also demanded the application of Paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment Order) 1968 which provides for the suspension/withdrawal of recognition for failure to observe the Model Code of Conduct or the directives of the Commission. In doing so, the BJP has not only referred to Mr. Gandhi’s election speeches in Rajasthan but also past violations by senior Congress leaders including External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid who was censured by the Election Commission for his objectionable references during the campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year.
In his election speeches in Rajasthan, Mr. Gandhi accused the BJP of indulging in divisive politics by stoking communal tensions in Muzaffarnagar and Gujarat for political gains. The BJP’s Rajasthan unit had already raised the issue with the Election Commission and Monday’s memorandum by the party’s central leadership seeks to lend additional weight to the effort.