The Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday wrote to the Election Commission to restrain Congress MP Rahul Gandhi from campaigning in the state ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, alleging that he had violated the Model Code of Conduct, PTI reported.
It also asked the poll body to direct the police to register a first information report against him under Sections 109 (abetment) and 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.
In a memorandum submitted to Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo, BJP’s state in-charge of election liaison committee, V Balachandran, claimed that Gandhi’s interaction with students of St Joseph’s Matric Higher Secondary School in Mulagumoodu in Kanyakumari district on March 1 was akin to an election campaign in school premises. Balachandran claimed that the meeting violated the Model Code of Conduct norm against holding political campaign in an educational institution, according to PTI.
He alleged that Gandhi in his interaction with students said that India now needed “another freedom struggle”, which he claimed was an incitement to sedition.
“The Congress leader’s comparison of the current situation with that of pre-Independence during the British rule and inciting the youth for another freedom struggle has been made with the intent to cause hatred, contempt and excite disaffection towards the government established bylaws,” Balachandran stated in his memorandum, according to PTI.
In a video of the interaction tweeted by the Congress, a student can be heard asking if the country needed “another freedom fight”.
“Even the press is unable to reveal the truth,” the student told Gandhi. “The people are getting threatened and beaten at certain times. In the Independent India, we are not able to express our thoughts. Our freedom of expression is being cut. So my question is do you think we need another freedom fight to get back our basic rights?”
To this, Gandhi replied, “I was thinking exactly that in the car. When I was coming here, I was thinking exactly that...that what India now is going to need is another freedom struggle.”
He then went on to add: “But, it has to be a non-violent, affectionate freedom struggle”.
In the clip of the conversation, Gandhi can be heard making the comments from 45.02 to 46.21 mark.
Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly will be held in a single phase on April 6. Counting of votes for all the poll-bound states – Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala – along with the Union Territory of Puducherry will take place on May 2. Voting will take place in several phases in the other states between March 27 and April 29.
Tamil Nadu is likely to witness a direct contest between the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party and a few other smaller parties, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress combine.