New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) Thursday issued a notice to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for his speeches last week in which he accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for causing communal flare-ups and noted that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was contacting Muzaffarnagar riot victims.
The commission, in its notice, said Gandhi's election speeches in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh last week were prima facie "violative" of the model code of conduct and asked him to reply by Monday why action should not be taken against him. The notice was issued on the BJP's complaints to the commission.
In a release, EC said it viewed CDs of Gandhi's speeches in Rajasthan's Churu Oct 23 and Madhya Pradesh's Indore Oct 24 and had detailed deliberations on the issue.
"The commission is prima facie of the view that your aforesaid speeches are violative of above-referred sub-paras (1), (2) and (3) of Para 1 of the Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates. Therefore, the Election Commission of lndia calls upon you to explain by 11.30 hours on Nov 4, 2013 as to why action should not be taken against you for the above mentioned violations of the Model Code of Conduct," the commission said in its notice to the Congress leader.
The notice has been sent to Gandhi through a special messenger. Gandhi is the lead campaigner of the Congress in the assembly polls to five states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, in November-December. He is also seen as the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The notice said if no reply was received within the prescribed limit, the commission will presume that "you have nothing to say and the commission will proceed to take appropriate action with any further reference to you".
The model code states "no party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic".
It also states "criticism of other political parties ... based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided" and "there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes".
The BJP earlier this week 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. It moved the commission calling for appropriate action against Gandhi for his inflammatory election speeches.
In the memorandum, the party reproduced the objectionable references in original in Hindi in Gandhi's speeches and said instead of distancing itself from the speeches in Churu, the Congress posted it on its website.
The BJP said tone and tenor of Gandhi's speech was to incite communal hatred and make an appeal for votes in favour of Congress on the basis of communal sentiments.
In his Churu speech, Gandhi accused the BJP of causing communal flare-ups. "They (BJP) will go to Muzaffarnagar and set fire. They will go to Gujarat and set fire. They will go to (Jammu and) Kashmir and will do the same. We have to run from pillar to post to douse the fire," he said.
In his Indore rally, Gandhi accused the BJP of dividing the people for political gains. "The (BJP) thought it will not gain in UP (Uttar Pradesh) till it divided people," Gandhi said, referring to September's Muzaffarnagar riots in which over 40 people were killed and thousands displaced.
Gandhi also spoken of an intelligence officer visiting him and telling him Pakistan intelligence agencies was contacting 10-15 youths who lost their siblings in the August-September Muzzaffarnagar riots that left 63 dead and displaced over 43,000.