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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

BJP moves EC against Sonia's meeting with Shahi Imam

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Jammu/New Delhi, April 03, 2014
First Published: 16:42 IST(3/4/2014) | Last Updated: 00:58 IST(4/4/2014)

Hours after the election commission (EC) said it would take cognisance of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's meeting with a Muslim delegation if a complaint was received, the BJP on Thursday moved the EC seeking strict action in the case.

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On Tuesday, Gandhi held talks with a delegation led by Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari and appealed to the minority community to ensure that the "secular votes" did not split.

The BJP has written to the EC that such intervention amounts to communal polarisation for the electoral benefit of a party (Congress).

"These developments are potent with ugly possibilities. Already the abusive and derogatory language used by various political parties is fouling up the atmosphere," reads the BJP's petition to the poll body.

Earlier on Thursday, chief election commissioner VS Sampath had told reporters in Jammu, "In such matters, we take cognisance on receiving a complaint. We are waiting for that. Once it's received, the issue will be examined and further action will be taken."

The BJP also said it was a "matter of amusement" that the coming together of one religious community, represented by the Shahi Imam, should be considered as a uniting of secular forces while the other side should be deemed communal.

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who has been attacked by political rivals over the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed at least 950 Muslims, also accused the Congress of trying to polarise voters along communal lines.

"Asking for votes on the basis of communalism is against the rules of the election commission as the polls have been announced," said Modi at a rally in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday.

"For them (Congress), secularism is religion first. For us, secularism is India first."

Meanwhile, Gandhi in Bihar also attacked the saffron party on Thursday, saying that the Congress was needed to ensure communal harmony in the country.

The fight for secularism has also found a place in the Congress manifesto released on March 26. The party has stepped up its attack on the BJP over the issue of communalism, which is dominating the political debates in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

Other parties including the Left parties, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress have also targeted the BJP, which has an edge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as per opinion polls.

Complaint against NC leader
Chief election commissioner VS Sampath in Jammu said the election commission had also received a complaint against Jammu and Kashmir cabinet minister and National Congress (NC) legislator Sakina Itoo for allegedly trying to force a voter to support the party in the name of religion.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) filed a complaint after a video purportedly showing Itoo asking for support from an elderly man went viral on social network sites including Facebook.

 

(With inputs from Tarun Upadhyay)


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