The Election Commission of India Tuesday issued a notice to cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for making an offensive statement during an election rally in Madhya Pradesh.
The Election Commission also asked Sidhu, who is the BJP parliamentarian from Amritsar, to respond to its notice by Wednesday.
The notice was served to Sidhu after the commission received a report Monday from the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) following a complaint by former BJP leader Prahlad Singh Patel.
Patel is now with rebel BJP leader Uma Bharti's Bhartiya Janashakti Party.
On Nov 19, Sidhu at a public meeting in Narsinghpur said: “The BJP is your mother (Prahlad)... Please return to your mother and here you will get all the respect... We are brothers and our fight is with the Congress. If five fingers are together, the power remains... whosoever is with mother should vote for Annabhai, and voting for someone who is not with mother is like eating beef...”
Speaking to reporters about the commission notice, Sidhu said he would watch the tape and then reply to the Election Commission.
The commission said as per the model code of conduct “there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”.
It also said that “..all parties and candidates shall not make any appeals on caste or religious grounds and shall avoid scrupulously activities which are corrupt practices and offences under the election law".
The commission explained that under Section 123(3) of Representation of People Act, 1951, making an appeal to vote for any person on the ground of his religion, caste, community or the use of religious symbols for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of a candidate or prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate is a corrupt practice.
The commission has asked Sidhu to explain why he “disregarded and violated the Model Code of Conduct and indulged in above said corrupt practice and electoral offences".
If he fails to give a reply, the commission will take further action against him without any further notice, a statement issued here said.
The Election Commission also wrote to the Madhya Pradesh CEO and directed him to provide the copy of the video film for their record.
The EC also sought the explanation of the district magistrate of Narsinghpur for not intimating the copmmission about the incident till Monday.