SONIA VIOLATED POLL CODE: EC
Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
Commission sends notice to Cong chief, Digvijay
After dragging its feet for nearly a week and under relentless
pressure from the BJP, the Election Commission on Sunday issued notice
to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her "merchants of fear and
death" remarks against Gujarat Government.
The EC said that Sonia's remarks, prima facie, violate the model code
of conduct, and asked her to give a reply by Tuesday.
Referring to Sonia Gandhi's remarks at an election meeting in Navsari
in Gujarat, the EC said, "The Commission has viewed the video
recording of the said speech. The Commission, prima facie, is of the
view that the statement made in the speech viz: those running the
Gujarat Government are liars, betrayers and merchants of fear and
death, amounts to violation of provisions of model code of conduct".
The Commission deferred its decision on the response given by Gujarat
Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks on Sohrabuddin encounter
The full Commission kept in abeyance the decision on Modi saying his
reply required "careful examination" as it sought more time to study
"Modi's reply requires careful examination. Therefore, no decision has
been taken by the EC. His reply would be examined by the Commission,"
EC sources said.
Modi had told the EC that his Sohrabuddin remarks were in response to
Sonia's provocative speech and pointed out that "no action has been
taken against those responsible for these statements." Leader of the
Opposition LK Advani had also asked the EC not to adopt double
standards in dealing with Sonia Gandhi.
The Commission also served notices on Congress general secretary
Digvijay Singh and BJP leader VK Malhotra for violating the code
conduct and asked them to send their response by Tuesday.
While Singh had reportedly spoken about Hindu terrorists in Gujarat,
Malhotra had accused Gandhi for having "hatred for Hindus".
In issuing notices to Sonia and others, the EC had acted under
provision of electoral laws, which prohibits parties and candidates
from indulging in activities, which may "aggravate existing
differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different
castes and communities, religious or linguistic".
The BJP has said its stand about Sonia's provocative speech has been
vindicated and claimed that EC issued notice to her under its
"It appears as if finally our pressure on the Election Commission,
which was taking unilateral action against (Gujarat Chief Minister)
Narendra Modi, has paid off," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said
He said the Election Commission is now showing "even- handedness in
issuing notices to Gandhi and Digvijay Singh because after all these
are the two people, especially Gandhi, who started off" the verbal
Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad welcomed the EC decision and
said, "we expect an objective decision would be taken at the earliest
in the light of the statement by Gandhi, which we feel is patently
violative of the model code of conduct".
On the Congress flip-flops on Gandhi's controversial remarks, he said
while Union Minister Kapil Sibal sought to deflect her statement
saying she did not refer to Modi, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi
has owned it up and even said it was a modest comment.
"Once the statement is owned up, we would like to see the Election
Commission taking appropriate decision on the matter at the earliest,"
Asked whether the BJP would raise the Congress president's remarks
during campaigning, he said the "utterances of Gandhi was an issue to
be discussed. It is a political issue".
Lashing out at the Congress, Prasad said Gandhi's "merchant of death"
comment only show the "sheer arrogance" of the party as it came
against an elected Government.
However, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi described as "completely
untenable" BJP's attempt to equate Sonia Gandhi's "merchants of death"
remarks and Modi's utterances of Sohrabuddin's encounter killing.
"Indeed, BJP's attempt to equate the statement of Modi and the
Congress president is completely untenable.You cannot compare the
incomparable," Singhvi said. He said the BJP's contention that Modi
was provoked into making the utterances by Gandhi's remarks was a
"desperate attempt to justify the unjustifiable and a desperate
attempt to cover up".
Singhvi said while Modi has "unprecedentedly admitted to a capital
crime, the Congress president has talked about misgovernance, about
the climate of lawlessness, the climate of insecurity that she is
within her rights "to do in a political campaign".