PM Modi’s Rajasthan ‘hate speech’ in Congress’s 16 complaints to Election Commission

The Opposition party has alleged that the PM invoked religion, religious symbols to create enmity between groups; Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge seeks time from PM to ‘educate’ him on the party manifesto 

April 22, 2024 04:51 pm | Updated April 23, 2024 08:46 am IST - New Delhi

Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gurdeep Singh Sappal and others leave after the meeting with the officials of the Election Commission of India (ECI), at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi on April 22, 2024. 

Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gurdeep Singh Sappal and others leave after the meeting with the officials of the Election Commission of India (ECI), at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi on April 22, 2024.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a strong pushback against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that the Congress manifesto talks about redistributing wealth to Muslims, the principal Opposition party on Monday approached the Election Commission (EC), seeking action against Mr. Modi.

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In its official representation to the EC, the Congress alleged that the Prime Minister invoked religion and religious symbols to create enmity between groups and argued that “the only remedy compatible with the principle of zero tolerance against corrupt practices is disqualification of the candidates who try to create a divide...”.

The party delegation, led by Abhishek Singhvi, however did not argue for disqualification before the commission.

Separately, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who had described Mr. Modi’s speech as “hate speech”, sought an appointment with the Prime Minister to “educate” him about its poll promise document.

Also read | Modi’s controversial Rajasthan speech roils Kerala politics 

EC declines to comment on Modi’s ‘hate speech’

The EC, however, declined to comment even as the Prime Minister’s speech, made at a rally in Rajasthan’ Banswara on Sunday, has snowballed into a major political controversy.

“The Prime Minister has to be held accountable by the EC for the brazen trampling of the Model Code of Conduct as well as the whole gamut of offences — electoral and otherwise — committed by him and his party,” the Congress said in a representation, adding, inaction by the poll panel would tarnish its legacy.

Also Read | PM has new tactics for diverting attention from real issues: Rahul Gandhi on Modi’s ‘redistribution of wealth’ remarks

Speaking to reporters after presenting its case before the poll panel, Mr. Singhvi said, “This is not the trial of those against who we have filed a complaint but a trial of the Election Commission itself. It is a trial of our constitutional spirit and ethos, and I hope none fails this trial”.

Asked what action would the Congress expect the EC to take against Mr. Modi, Mr. Singhvi said, “what you [EC] do in other cases”.

Stepping up its attack politically, Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal accused Mr. Modi of “lying about everything and spread such fake news”.

“Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has sought an appointment with the Prime Minister to educate him about our manifesto. We will give him a copy of our manifesto. All our Congress workers and candidates will also send him a copy of our manifesto,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Leading a counter-attack on Mr. Modi, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed the Prime Minister and the BJP had been insisting on 400-plus seats to end social justice, social empowerment and reservations, enshrined in the Constitution drafted by Babasahedb Ambedkar.

Posing a series of questions on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who headed the manifesto committee, asked the BJP to clearly spell out when and where did the Congress say that it will distribute people’s land, gold and other valuables among Muslims. “When and where did the Congress say that a survey will be conducted to value the property of individuals, gold held by women and silver owned by tribal families? When and where did the Congress say that land and cash belonging to government employees will also be distributed?” the former Finance Minister asked.

Also read | Any failure to take action will mar EC’s credibility: Sitharam Yechury

“I cannot recall that any other Prime Minister had made such outrageous statements like PM Modi did at Jalore and Banswara in Rajasthan...”

Mr. Chidambaram said it was a shame that the level of debate had sunk to a new low after April 21.

“The Prime Minister must have some respect for his predecessor. Dr. [Manmohan] Singh had said that the first claim on resources lies with SC, ST, OBC, minorities, women and children. It is scandalous to distort his words as Mr. Modi has done,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

In all, the Congress made 17 complaints to the EC, including use of religious photos and posters by the BJP in Gujarat and hosting polarising TV shows by a particular anchor of a Hindi channel.

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