The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari over the hate speech delivered by him on March 29 while campaigning during West Bengal Assembly elections. The Commission is acting upon a complaint filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) member Kavita Krishnan. The EC has given Adhikari 24 hours to respond.
The ECI has found that some statements in the speech were violative of clauses 2 and 3 of Part 1 of ‘General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates’. The clauses state as follows:
(2) Criticism of other political parties when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided;
(3) There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, churches temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda
The part of Adhikari’s speech considered violative of the code of conduct is transcribed as follows:
“One the one hand, Begum is competing against us. On the other hand, here is the son of your family, your younger brother, your friend, elder brother for my juniors. Whom would you like to accept, tell me? Election is knocking on the door. You are not giving votes to Begum. If you vote for Begum there will be mini Pakistan… A Daud Ibrahim has come up in your locality… we will note down everything. What is the government doing? What is the use of it? Which Puja celebration is coming next? … With which flower did Ramachandra worship Maa Durga? All of you should, therefore, vote for lotus.”
It is noteworthy that the ECI has finally taken action against the BJP leader, given how it was quick to take action against Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for an allegedly communal speech, based on a complaint from the BJP. In its complaint, the BJP had accused Banerjee of asking for votes in the name of religion by allegedly appealing to Muslims to ensure their vote does not get split. Many had wondered why Banerjee was being singled out when Adhikari had also made deeply communal remarks in his poll rally speech. The EC had then given Banerjee 48 hours to respond to the notice, a time period that expires today.
Banerjee and Adhikari both contested the assembly election from Nandigram. Adhikari is a former TMC member who only recently joined the BJP.