18 Mar :Cracking the whip, the Election Commission moved against Varun Gandhi, BJP candidate for his anti-Muslim speeches and police quickly filed a case against him.As his remarks triggered a political storm and came under attack from within the party and allies, the three- member Commission met and considered the speeches made by Gandhi in Pilibhit in which he had, among other things, threatened to cut the hands of those who would raise their hands against Hindus.
In a slew of decisions, the EC directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to file a case against Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act against Gandhi and issued a notice to him for violation of Model Code of Conduct.
BJP was also slapped with a notice over Gandhi’s remarks.Shortly later, the Station Officer of Barkhera filed a case against Gandhi under provisions of IPC and RPA relating to speeches intended to cause enmity among people on religious grounds.
The provisions speak of punishment of imprisonment upto three years.Under the law, a person convicted of an offence with imprisonment of not less than two years, could be barred from contesting elections.
The Commission also ordered transfer of distsrict officials and suspended two others for dereliction of duty.The Commission sought an explanation from Gandhi, who is making his electoral debut from Pilibhit, for alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct.The Commission’s action also came on a day when a Congress delegation met the EC to complain Gandhi’s speech, calling it "highly deplorable" deserving proper action.
Gandhi, whose mother Maneka Gandhi is a BJP MP, also faced strong criticism from within the party. Senior leader Shanawaz Hussain termed the remarks "shocking" and demanded an unconditional apology from him.
Another leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also assailed the remarks saying they are a manifestation of his family’s past Congress culture.Rattled by the controversy, the BJP itself asked its party candidates to observe caution and restraint in their speeches. "We do not subscribe to such views," party spokesperson Siddarth Nath Singh said.
Party Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, however, ruled out any action against Gandhi, saying he is campaigning for the party and he is a party candidate. "What he has said in his speeches is being looked into by the EC," he said.
Varun refutes charge of making communal statement.With his alleged anti-Muslim comments drawing flak from within and outside the party, an unapologetic Varun Gandhi refuted the charge of making such statement and said he was strongly committed to the ideals of secularism.
"I strongly refute the charge of making any communal or divisive statements as part of my election campaign. In this climate of terrorism, I have spoken only about standing firm against the anti-national and anti-social forces that threaten this nation," Gandhi said in a statement on Tuesday.
"I categorically reiterate my family’s and my own unwavering commitment to the ideals of secularism," he said.Gandhi invoked his family legacy to convey that he stands for service and sacrifice for the nation and to work for a peaceful and prosperous India.
Gandhi alleged it on his "frustrated electoral rivals" of making "a crude and vicious attempt" to malign him by doctoring his speech."I unequivocally state that that (the speech CD) is neither my voice nor my language. The tape in question appears to have been doctored," Gandhi said.
"These are purportedly two weeks old. None of what I have actually said was either intended or taken to be communal which is testified to by the fact that this intervening period there has been no communal tension or untoward incident in the incident," he said.
"I express full confidence in the authorities to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and severely punish those who malign and thwart a young person willing and able to contribute to the process of building a strong yet just, tolerant and inclusive society," Gandhi said.
As per the orders of the Election Commission, police on Tuesday filed a criminal case against Gandhi for his alleged inflammatory speech with communal overtones and served notice to the party seeking its explanation.