The Election Commission on Sunday issued a notice to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, holding the view that her “merchants of death” remark during the Gujarat poll campaign, prima facie, violated the model code of conduct.
Sonia had made the remark, in an apparent reference to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, at a public rally at Navsari on December 1.
<b1>The EC also issued notices to Congress leader Digvijay Singh and the BJP’s VK Malhotra. Digvijay had reportedly talked about “existence of Hindu terrorism in Gujarat” while Malhotra was said to have accused Sonia of harbouring “hatred for Hindus”.
The three have to respond to the notices by Tuesday noon — the day of the first phase of polling in Gujarat.
The notice to Sonia, on her birthday, came in the wake of the BJP’s demand which became shriller after the EC served a show cause notice on Modi for allegedly justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin.
The EC has decided to keep in abeyance further action in Modi’s case. “Modi’s reply requires careful examination. Therefore, no decision has been taken,” an official said.
Reacting to the notice on Sonia, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said a “full and comprehensive” reply would be given. He denied violation of the model code.
Singhvi said the BJP’s bid to equate Modi’s statement with Sonia’s was “untenable” and a “desperate attempt to justify the unjustifiable”. He said that while Modi has “admitted to a capital crime”, Sonia was within her right to talk in her political campaign about misgovernance, lawlessness and insecurity.
Former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh said: “The whole thing is like a street brawl on which no intelligent person would like to comment.”
(Inputs from Saroj Nagi)