The Election Commission on Thursday issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari for allegedly delivering hate speech while campaigning for the West Bengal Assembly elections on March 29 in Nandigram constituency, reported the Hindustan Times.
Adhikari was pitted against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the constituency. Voting in the seat was held during the second phase of the polls.
The complaint was lodged by Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) leader Kavita Krishnan. The poll panel said Adhikari has violated clauses (2) and (3) of the Model Code of Conduct. Clause (2) bars candidates from criticising the private lives of their political opponents and refrains them from making criticisms based on “unverified allegations or distortion”. Clause (3) prohibits candidates from appealing to “caste or communal feelings for securing votes”. The clause also states that religious places of worship should not be used for election propaganda.
In its notice, the poll panel said that the speech in question relates to Adhikari making references to one “Begum”, telling the attendees at the rally that voting for his political opponent would mean voting for a “mini Pakistan”. The BJP leader also made a reference to “lotus” – BJP’s election symbol – that is used by deities in Hindu rituals, and had asked his supporters to thus “vote for lotus”.
Elections in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. The first phase was held on March 27 and the second on April 1. The third phase of polling took place on Tuesday. The results will be announced on May 2.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission had also issued a notice to Chief Minister Banerjee for appealing to Muslims to vote against the BJP at a rally in Hooghly district on April 3. The notice was issued for “openly demanding votes on communal grounds”. The poll panel said that Banerjee has violated the Model Code of Conduct with her remarks.