BJP leader Kiran Bedi has written to the Election Commission, asking it to enquire if ‘fatwas’ impact voting.
Hinting at the appeal of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, to Muslims a day before the assembly election, Bedi told reporters, “These fatwas impact the freedom of choice. A fatwa means a diktat, a directive... it means a message. They have an impact on voters.”
However, Bukhari had also urged Muslims to vote for the Congress before the Lok Sabha election but the Congress had lost miserably and Muslim leaders feel that Bukhari’s appeal did not mean much to Muslims now.
Bedi was trailing in the first eight rounds of counting but started leading after that.
“After the eighth round, she started leading and maintained a lead of over 2,000 votes till the 17th round. There were 19 rounds of counting and she lost in the last two. The last two rounds were of the Muslim-dominated areas,” said a BJP leader.
“Shouldn’t the Election Commission look into these last minute fatwas, orders and diktats? Are these things acceptable in a democratic process?” asked Bedi.
The EC is looking into the complaint. While no final decision has been taken on her complaint, commission officials said that the model code of conduct applies only to the players in elections including candidates and functionaries of political parties.
“Individuals or religious leaders are not explicitly covered by the model code,” the official said.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha on Wednesday said that Kiran Bedi should introspect on the reasons of her loss in the recently held Delhi assembly polls, rather than blaming Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari’s alleged ‘fatwa’ for it.
Chadha also accused the BJP of ‘propping’ up the Shahi Imam, claiming that they were attempting to malign the image of the AAP.
“As far as the ‘fatwa’ controversy is concerned... they have tried everything to malign the AAP image,” he said.
Aam Aadmi Party’s SK Bagga defeated Bedi by a margin of 2,277 votes in Krishna Nagar, which was considered to be the stronghold of BJP as the party has been winning this seat for the last two decades.