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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday formally complained to the Election Commission (EC) of India against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s remarks blaming the saffron party for inciting communal riots at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in September.
The BJP wrote to the EC that Gandhi’s speeches in Rajasthan on October 23 violated the model code of conduct for elections.
The model code of conduct has been enforced from October 4 in the five states headed for assembly elections – Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Mizoram.
Gandhi had accused the BJP of practicing “politics of hatred”.
Talking about the victims of Muzaffarnagar riots, Gandhi said, “I was seeing my face in their grief. That is why I am against the politics of BJP. They will set Muzaffarnagar on fire, Gujarat on fire, UP on fire and Kashmir on fire and then you and we will have to douse that … BJP divides people.”
In the letter to the EC, the BJP said, “The happenings in Muzaffarnagar are still being investigated. He is accusing BJP, without any iota of proof. He is not naming any other party.”
Gandhi is “significantly muted and silent on the 1984 riots and erases the role of the Congress Party in those riots from history,” the BJP added.
Earlier on Friday, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Rahul Gandhi has been making baseless allegations against the BJP. He is trying to get votes by dividing the people on communal basis. We will complain to Election Commission to take action against Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.”
The BJP also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde to either confirm or denounce Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that Pakistan’s ISI was in touch with some Muslim youths affected by the Muzaffarnagar riots to draw them to terrorist activities.
The party also demanded an answer from the home minister as to why the Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials were briefing Gandhi.
“In what capacity is the IB briefing Rahul Gandhi? He is just an MP, we are MPs too… He is not the Prime Minister or a home minister,” BJP national spokesman Prakash Javadekar told the media in New Delhi.
BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahanwaz Hussain told reporters in Patna, “Either the Prime Minister or Shinde should either confirm or denounce it as it involves the reputation of Muslims.”
“Rahul has made serious allegations against Muslims and insulted them by linking them to the ISI,” he added.
The communal violence in Muzaffarnagar district left at least 62 dead and 43,000 homeless.
At an election rally in Indore on Thursday, Rahul Gandhi had made a claim that singed by the violence in Muzaffarnagar, many Muslim youths were in touch with Pakistan’s ISI.
Gandhi’s statement regarding Muslim youths also touched a raw nerve with Muslim leaders.
Maulana Saif Abbas Naqvi, a prominent Shia cleric, on Friday said such statements not only portrayed the Muslim community in a bad light, but also strengthened communal forces.
Naqvi said it was a “grave insinuation” against millions of peace-loving and patriotic Muslims in the country. He also alleged that instead of understanding the plight and pain of the riot victims, the Gandhi scion was playing politics with the communal riots and the victims.
Shahar Qazi, Maulana Abul Irfan Miyan Farangi Mahali, termed the statement as “most unfortunate” and demanded an immediate and unconditional apology from the Congress leader.
“It does not befit leaders of a national party like the Congress to make such cheap and hurtful statements against the Muslims... we are patriotic and would do anything for India,” he said.
Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, senior vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, also said anyone who questioned the minorities’ integrity and loyalty to the country was doing a great disservice to India and the Muslims.
Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Faruqui also said the remark had cast uncalled-for doubts over the integrity of Muslims in the country.
“Yesterday’s statement by Rahul Gandhi is very unfortunate because it unnecessarily creates doubt over the integrity of the Muslims. Anybody who does indulge in any activity that affects the integrity of the community is very, very regrettable. I was not expecting such remarks from Rahul Gandhi,” Faruqui said.
“The Muslims had enough reasons to be swayed away by the ISI or any other persons during the Babri Masjit demolitions and the riots after during 2002, and several hundreds of thousands of other riots. But the Muslims do have faith in the judicial system and the internal democratic system of the country... and have given all kinds of sacrifices for the freedom struggle.”
(With agency inputs)