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Sonia has not violated poll code: Congress

The Congress on Tuesday gave "detailed reasons" to the Election Commission pointing out that party president Sonia Gandhi has not violated the model code of conduct.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2007 18:28 IST

The Congress on Tuesday gave "detailed reasons" to the Election Commission pointing out that party president Sonia Gandhi has not violated the model code of conduct over her "merchants of death" remark during campaigning for the Gujarat assembly polls.

Declining to reveal the contents of the reply, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "We have filed an appropriate and detailed response. We are certainly not sharing it with the press".

Singhvi, as a senior advocate, was authorised by Gandhi to file the reply. "All I can assure you is that detailed reasons have been given to demonstrate that there is absolutely no question of violation of the model code of conduct".

The AICC had suggested on Monday that Gandhi did not not name Narendra Modi, but had the entire state administration, including the Chief Minister, in mind when she had made those remarks.

The party has been dismissing as "outrageous" the attempts to equate Gandhi with Modi and has been insisting that the model code of conduct had not been violated as she had only pointed to "political failures of the government".

Holding her "merchants of fear and death" remarks about Gujarat government prima facie violative of the model code of conduct, the Election Commission had issued notice to Gandhi asking her to file a reply by Tuesday.

The action against Gandhi followed her remarks at an election meeting in Navsari in Gujarat.

The EC had said in its order that it had viewed the video recording of the speech and was prima facie of the view that the statement made in the speech --'those running the Gujarat government are liars, betrayers and merchants of fear and death' -- amounted to violation of provisions of model code of conduct.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and BJP leader V K Malhotra, who were also found prima facie guilty of breaching the code of conduct and were asked to send their response by today, replied to the notices before the deadline.

While Singh had reportedly spoken about Hindu terrorists in Gujarat, BJP leader V K Malhotra was sought to be put in the dock for his accusations against Gandhi of being biased against Hindus.

Gandhi and the two leaders had been charged with violating the code that prohibits parties and candidates from indulging in activities which may "aggravate existing differences or create mututal hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic".

Singh in his reply denied that he ever uttered those words as reported in the newspaper clippings which have been enclosed with the notice.

"I may also clarify that if the entire speech which is a subject matter of notice is considered dispassionately by the commission, it will be crystal clear that I have not referred to or criticised any of the aspects of private life of any BJP leader nor have I criticised or made allegations on unverified and distorted facts," he said.