Congress chief gets EC notice over Sonia Gandhi's 'Karnataka sovereignty' remark | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Congress chief gets poll panel notice over Sonia Gandhi's 'Karnataka sovereignty' remark

May 09, 2023 03:48 AM IST

EC asks Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge to clarify Sonia Gandhi's 'Karnataka sovereignty' remark.

The Election Commission of India on Monday issued a letter to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to clarify and rectify the party's social media post on Karnataka's “sovereignty” remark attributed to its senior leader Sonia Gandhi, following a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi addresses a public meeting ahead of Karnataka assembly polls in Hubballi on Saturday. (PTI)
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi addresses a public meeting ahead of Karnataka assembly polls in Hubballi on Saturday. (PTI)

The BJP on Monday had moved the Election Commission seeking action against Sonia Gandhi, to whom the opposition party had attributed the remark, and her party's derecognition. The party also demanded an FIR against her.

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A BJP delegation headed by Union minister Bhupender Yadav submitted a memorandum to the poll panel in Delhi over the issue.

“The Election Commission of India today issued a letter to INC President to provide clarification and take rectification measures in respect of the social media post which has been put up on the Official INC Twitter handle and attributed to Chairperson CPP,” the ECI said in a statement.

The panel said in the complaint, the BJP alleged, "Karnataka, is a very important member state in the union of India and any call to protect the sovereignty of a member state of the union of India amounts to a call for secession and is fraught with perilous & pernicious consequences.”

Speaking to reporters, party leader Tarun Chugh, who was part of the delegation besides BJP MP Anil Baluni and leader Om Pathak, cited the Representation of the People Act and said the Congress party should be derecognised.

The BJP also submitted a copy of the Congress tweet quoting Gandhi, the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson, on the issue.

The opposition party had tweeted, "CPP Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi ji sends a strong message to 6.5 crore Kannadigas: 'The Congress will not allow anyone to pose a threat to Karnataka's reputation, sovereignty or integrity'."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue in his public meetings on Sunday to launch a scathing attack on the Congress, accusing the party of openly advocating for "separating" Karnataka from India. Modi alleged that the disease of the "tukde-tukde gang" (anti-national elements) has reached the Congress' top level.

Hitting back, Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka Randeep Surjewala claimed that the desperation of the prime minister and BJP is glaring as "they seek to clutch at straws for want of a narrative in Karnataka".

"We reject the fakery and falsehood being perpetuated by the prime minister as he refuses to answer a single question on why BJP is denigrating the 'swabhimaan' (pride) of Karnataka," he said.

Citing the Congress tweets, the BJP in its memorandum to the poll watchdog alleged that such a comment is well-considered "evil design" to provoke the staunch nationalists, peace loving, progressive and globally recognised people of Karnataka.

The intent apparently is to be disturb the equanimity, harmony and peace to garner votes and support some select communities or groups, whose sole purpose and intent is to disrupt the very being of the Indian state, it claimed.

"The general and emerging impressions of Indian National Congress, amongst common people, is one of a party that always sides with forces that are inimical and opposed to the Indian state," it said.

Noting that a "sovereign" by definition is an independent nation, the complaint said, "When a country becomes independent, that country is called a sovereign country. India is a sovereign country and the state of Karnataka is a proud part in it. Till today no one raised any question about the integrity of Kannadigas with the sovereignty of the nation."

Describing the Congress' tweet quoting Gandhi as "shocking and unacceptable", Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who filed the complaint, said Gandhi had violated provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and requested the EC to take stringent action against her for making "such a statement".

Union Minister Anurag Thakur said Sonia Gandhi's reference to "Karnataka's sovereignty" has revealed the party's "deep conspiracy to disintegrate India".

The BJP also demanded that the Congress should apologise for its advertisement listing "corruption rates" in the state, between 2019 and 2023, while attacking the BJP government.

Polling to elect 224 members of the Karnataka assembly will be held on May 10 and the counting of votes will take place on May 13.

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