Udhayanidhi claims did not break poll code by remarks on Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley
Reacting to Election Commission's notice on his remarks on late Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Udhayanidhi Stalin on Wednesday said he did not breach the model code of conduct which is in place during the election season in Tamil Nadu.
Udhayanidhi said the poll panel "has not taken the whole speech into consideration and only referred to two lines".
The son of DMK chief MK Stalin was pulled up by the poll body for his remarks on late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. Udhayanidhi claimed that the two BJP leaders were "unable to tolerate the pressure and torture" given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and died due to it.
The EC asked him to respond to the notice before 5pm on Wednesday, "failing which the Commission shall take a decision without any further reference to you".
Udhayanidhi, in his reply, stated that the "tenor and intention of his entire speech must be appreciated" to decide the context of the extracted two lines and urged the EC to furnish a transcript of the entire speech for him so that he can file a full and proper reply.
"At the outset I deny that I have committed any breach of the model code of conduct," Udhayanidhi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
In his response, Udhayanidhi said that he was only responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's accusation against him at a poll rally that he had reached high political office in DMK through short cut methods.
"The impugned speech is nothing but answer to that criticism wherein I have said that Mr Narendra Modi became Prime Minister only through short cut methods overlooking other senior leaders in BJP party while he was chief minister of Gujarat," said Udhayanidhi.
"I said that I was having a list of senior leaders who were sidelined by him. I gave the names of Mr (LK) Advani, Mr Yashwant Sinha, Late Mrs Sushma Swaraj and Mr Arun Jaitley. The words pressure and torture were not used by me in the said context as sought to be projected in the showcause notice," the DMK leader claimed.
The said lines, he said, if appreciated in spirit of the delivery of the entire speech taken as a whole, do not breach the mode code.
The notice had said the EC received a complaint from the BJP alleging that Udhayanidhi Stalin, while addressing a political gathering at Dharapuram on March 31, made a statement that "Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley (both Union ministers) died unable to tolerate the pressure and torture given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi".
Slapping the notice on DMK leader who has campaigned for his southern party DMK, the EC said that it is of the view that the contents of the speech made by him violated the provision of MCC which states that "criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work."
The EC also said that the parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties.
"Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided," it had said.
Tamil Nadu voted in single-phase assembly election on Tuesday with 3,998 candidates and 234 assembly constituencies in the contest.
The polling brought the fierce election campaign to an end as the 6.28 crore voters of Tamil Nadu exercised their franchise in the amid strict Covid-19 safety protocols.
The state recorded 72.78% polling with Karur recording the highest of 83.92% while Chennai the lowest turnout of 59.06 per cent.