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EC notice to Thakur over ‘shoot traitors’ slogan, examines charge against Verma

UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2020 11:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Based on a report submitted by the Delhi chief electoral officer (CEO), the Election Commission of India (ECI) Tuesday served a notice to Union minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur for the “provocative slogans” raised by him while campaigning for a BJP candidate Monday.

Also, the EC is likely to issue a show cause notice to West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma for alleged breach of law for his remarks about the ongoing sit-in at Shaheen Bagh and a tweet posted by him regarding a particular religious group.

The statements made by Thakur are a violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) as well as the provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the commission in its notice said.

It has sought an explanation from Thakur, BJP’s star campaigner, for allegedly inciting a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say “goli maaro” (shoot the traitors), and asked him to respond by Thursday afternoon (January 30).

“Whereas, the Commission is, prima facie, of the view that by making the aforesaid statements which have the potential of disturbing communal harmony and aggravating the existing differences between social and religious communities, you have violated the provisions of the model code of conduct and Representatives of People Act, 1951,” read the ECI order served to Thakur.

BJP MP Thakur was campaigning for party candidate in Rithala in North-West Delhi ahead of the Delhi assembly elections scheduled for February 8. In a widely shared video, Thakur can be seen prompting the crowd. Thakur can be seen and heard saying “desh ke gaddaron ko... (traitors of the country...),” to which the crowd responded with “goli maaron … (shoot them...)”

The ECI took action after it received a report from the CEO. The Act bars a candidate and his/her representative from making statements that promotes or attempts to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different sections.

“Prima facie it was felt a violation has been committed. Further action against the MP will be taken pursuant to receiving his response,” a senior ECI official said.

In the case of star campaigners, the CEO is not the authority to issue notices and, hence, EC has to take a call. The report on Verma’s statements was sent to the EC on Tuesday evening.

The officer said ECI likely to issue a notice to Verma, another BJP star campaigner. Verma, during an election rally in Vikaspuri Tuesday morning, announced that Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area will be cleared of protesters agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) within an hour if his party came to power in Delhi.

Also, Verma, in an interview to ANI, said, “Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). People of Delhi will have to think and take a decision. They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them.”

A senior officer in the state election office said, “We had examined the video of the speech by Thakur and it was found to be authentic. Our surveillance teams are on the ground monitoring rallies. Similarly, in the case of Verma, the interview he gave to a news agency and his tweet were examined. The remarks made by both MPs were found to be provocative in nature.”

The state election office has taken suo motu cognisance of the remarks made by the MPs. “We took cognisance in both cases. No complaint was received in both incidents,” the officer said.

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