The Election Commission will serve a notice to Vadodara corporator Shailesh Mehta ‘Sotta’ for making “communally provocative” remarks at an election campaign, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

Mehta, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for the Dabhoi Assembly seat in Gujarat, said on Wednesday, “If someone with dadhi-topi [beard and cap] is among the people here, forgive me, but their number here has to reduce”. He went on to say that “there should be no population of Dubai” in Dabhoi, and that he will “not donate a single paisa to a masjid and madrasa” if elected.

“Those who are involved in chamakalas [rioting] must stop their activities, otherwise they will be given a befitting reply,” Sotta said.

After local television channels aired a video of the public speech, Ahmedabad-based social worker Nishant Varma filed a complaint with the Election Commission, PTI reported.

“He is clearly heard saying that the Muslim population must be reduced in the area, and that Muslims will face eenth ka jawab pathhar se [will get a befitting reply for their actions],” Varma said in his complaint. “This is unacceptable.”

“This shows their mentality...they want to polarise the elections, but people have seen through their dirty game,” said Mehta’s opponent, Congress’ Siddharth Patel, according to NDTV.

District Election Officer P Bharati told The Indian Express that the Returning Officer had been asked to serve a notice to Sotta as his speech violated the Model Code of Conduct. The Returning Officer will issue the notice on Friday, she said.

Sotta, however, told The Indian Express that he had only referred to anti-social elements and did not name any community. “Some of these anti-social elements and criminals, who have been detained by the police, commented that they face a threat because of me,” he said. “Because I am a threat to anti-social elements, innocent people can live happily.”