“Your father [Rajiv Gandhi] may have been declared Mr. Clean by his courtiers. But he died as “Bhrashtachari No.1,” Mr. Modi had said at a rally in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attempted to “malign and tarnish” the image of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed in a terror attack, the Congress told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
In an additional affidavit, the party said Mr. Modi’s recent words, “Your father may have been declared Mr. Clean by his courtiers. But he died as “Bhrashtachari No.1” is both “obscene and derogatory” to the high office he held. It was both “unfortunate and unbecoming” a statement for a Prime Minister to make.
The Congress said it lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) on May 6 against Mr. Modi’s remarks against Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu in 1991. Mr. Modi’s words at an election speech in Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh was meant as a verbal attack on Rahul Gandhi, Congress president and son of Rajiv Gandhi.
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Congress through its lawmaker Sushmita Dev to file an additional affidavit to make good its complaint that the ECI had dealt with several complaints of hate speech against Mr. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in an off-hand manner through cryptic orders of dismissal. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had further scheduled the case for detailed hearing on May 8.
“The ECI failed to appreciate that the hate speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Amit Shah are ‘corrupt practices’ under Section 123A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which ex-facie promote feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion,” the affidavit filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes contended.
‘Speeches punishable under IPC’
The affidavit said it was also imperative to note that the Prime Minister’s speeches were punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as they “blatantly promote disharmony and feelings of enmity on the grounds of religion and such acts are also likely to prejudice the maintenance of public harmony and tranquillity between religious communities”.
The Congress pointed out that the dissent reported and given by one of the Election Commissioners was not being placed in the public domain by the ECI. “This demonstrates a complete lack of transparency and arbitrariness of the ECI’s decision-making process on complaints against Mr. Modi and Amit Shah,” the affidavit said.
The Congress presented a chart of 11 complaints of hate speech and alleged misuse of the armed forces for purpose of election propaganda filed in the ECI against Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah. Seven of them were against Mr. Modi. One, concerning a speech in Wardha, was inexplicably kept pending by the ECI for 25 days before it exonerated Mr. Modi without assigning any reasons for arriving at the decision. Complaints have either been dismissed without assigning reasons or no action had been taken on them by the ECI. One of them, alleged misuse of government or official machinery, had been forwarded to the Niti Aayog.
The Congress wondered why the ECI has a ‘’different set of rules’’ for Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah. Other leaders who have delivered speeches of a similar “tenor, tone, meaning, purport and intention” have been punished for violation of the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of People Act, 1951. Among them are even BJP candidates and ministers, including Pragya Singh Thakur, Maneka Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati.
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