The Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday said it has approached the Election Commission against Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appeal to Muslims in Katihar constituency to vote unitedly to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the elections. A first information report has been registered against Sidhu for violating the Model Code of Conduct, PTI reported.
“We met Election Commission and made them aware of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s statement made at a rally in Katihar, earlier today,” Bihar BJP Vice President Devesh Kumar said according to ANI. “They said they have seen the footage and have assured us that necessary action will be taken.”
At the rally earlier in the day, Sidhu had said: “You are in a 64% majority here. I have come to warn you, that these people [BJP] are trying to divide you. By bringing in a person like [All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin] Owaisi here, by introducing a new party here, they want to win the polls. If you get united – the minority is in a majority here – and vote together, Modi will be defeated. You will hit a six. Hit such a sixer that Modi lands outside the boundary.”
The AIMIM has fielded a candidate in Kishanganj constituency of Bihar.
A first information report was filed against Sidhu at Barasoi police station of Katihar district, Bihar for violating the Model Code of Conduct, PTI reported. The FIR was filed based on a complaint lodged by the Election Commission’s flying squad. Bihar chief electoral officer said a report has been sent to the Election Commission for necessary action.
The cricketer-turned-politician also said that he is always willing to help Muslims who come to Punjab for work. “You get love from us in Punjab,” he said. “If you face any problems in Punjab, I am a minister, approach me, I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you.”
Responding to Sidhu’s accusations, Owaisi wondered who the Congress leader was trying to unify during his years in the BJP. “The party may be new, but Seemanchal [Purnia division] remains backward,” Owaisi tweeted. “We will get rid of this backwardness. I have introduced a bill for a Seemanchal Development Council for all of Seemanchal: Hindus, Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs.”
The AIMIM chief claimed that while his party wants to develop all of Seemanchal, the Congress campaign is still focused on instilling fear of the BJP in people’s minds. “The fear is gone, now they want justice,” he tweeted. “Their leadership is so spineless that they could not get Sidhu to pause for Azaan. What can we expect from them?”
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad criticised the Congress for Sidhu’s comments. “Congress might have once played a role in the freedom movement but this party is now known for encouraging ‘tukde tukde gang’ and is seeking evidence of the valour of soldiers,” he said, according to Hindustan Times.
Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushi Modi said the Election Commission should initiate action against Sidhu in view of a Supreme Court order which directed the poll body to take strict action against parties if their spokespersons deliver speeches or make remarks in the media pertaining to religion or caste.
Election campaigning in Uttar Pradesh has already seen appeals for votes targeted at religious communities. In a speech in Deoband on April 7, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had urged Muslim voters not to vote for the Congress as it would divide the minority vote.
On April 9, Chief Minister Adityanath said at a rally in Meerut that if the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have faith in Ali (a revered figure in Islam), the BJP has faith in Bajrang Bali (Hindu god Hanuman).
On Monday, the Election Commission prohibited Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours, and imposed a similar ban on Mayawati for 48 hours for violating the Model Code of Conduct. The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and votes will be counted on May 23.