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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Sonia rejects BJP charge of polarising votes

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   New Delhi: New Delhi, April 02, 2014
First Published: 19:26 IST(2/4/2014) | Last Updated: 08:12 IST(3/4/2014)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday dismissed as an “absolute joke” the BJP charge of polarising the Lok Sabha elections by asking Muslim leaders to ensure that “secular vote” was not split.

Hindustan Times on Wednesday wrote that Gandhi had met a Muslim delegation led by Jama Masjid imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari and appealed for a united move to avert division of the so-called secular votes.

Read: Sonia's assets worth over Rs. 9 crore, but she doesn't own a car

“This is absolute communal politics on display. This is absolutely unacceptable. The EC should take note of it,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Threatening to move the Election Commission, the BJP said Gandhi’s call was a desperate attempt to polarise elections along religious lines.

Read: Congress will have to work hard to get Muslim votes

The BJP expects the poll watchdog to take suo motu notice, saying Gandhi had violated the model code of conduct that prohibits seeking votes in the name of religion.

Javadekar said Gandhi’s appeal was an insult to Muslims and Congress’ stand on secularism stood exposed.

His senior party colleague Arun Jaitley said Gandhi’s remarks imputed that the majority vote in India was not a secular. “That’s the impression I got when I read the news item,” he said.

Read: Sonia Gandhi files nomination from Rae Bareli

The Congress, however, drew distinction between secular and minority votes, saying secularism was a broad term cutting across religious lines.

Gandhi, who filed her nomination papers at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, took on the BJP, saying its charge against her was an “absolute joke”. The Congress, she said, was not in the “habit of polarising elections”.

Commerce minister and Congress spokersperson Anand Sharma accused the BJP of engaging in communal politics.

“It is they (BJP), who want to polarise otherwise why (Modi) choose Varanasi to contest… It is their habit to try to polarise in the name of religion. Congress represents nationalism,” he said.

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