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PM comment lands Cong in trouble

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh’s reiteration in Mumbai last week that the poor among the minorities had the first claim on the nation’s wealth or resources has landed the Congress in trouble.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2009 16:30 IST
Bhavika Jain

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh’s reiteration in Mumbai last week that the poor among the minorities had the first claim on the nation’s wealth or resources has landed the Congress in trouble.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Mumbai North Central constituency, Mahesh Jethmalani, on Monday filed a complaint against Singh for allegedly violating the model code of conduct.

Jethmalani, in a complaint lodged with the Election Commission, alleged that Singh breached the code of conduct by stating that the underprivileged members of the minority groups, including the Muslims, had the first claim on the country’s resources. Singh had said this in reply to a question at a press conference in Mumbai on April 13. He had made a similar observation in the past as well.

“This statement has violated the code of conduct which says that no party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate difference or create difference or hatred or tension between different castes and communities,” said Jethmalani.

Sources in the Congress said their party would have to explain its stand as the issue raised by the BJP might give an impression that the party disregarded the majority and instead chose to woo the minorities ahead of the polls.

“We are a secular state. This promise to lure the Muslim vote bank cannot be made good in the existing framework of the Constitution, unless he wants to rewrite the Constitution itself,” said Jethmalani.

Jethmalani submitted his complaint to the Returning Officer of Mumbai North Central constituency, Mahendra Warbhuvan.

Warbhuvan said he had received the complaint. “We will forward it to the Election Commission on Tuesday,” he said.

“Whatever the prime minister said has been reported by the newspapers earlier. There is nothing new in it and so it does not amount to violation of code of conduct,” said Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil.