The election Commission (EC) on Thursday issued show-cause notices to BJP Mumbai chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Shiv Sena candidate Pandurang Sakpal for October 21 Assembly polls and the organiser of a campaign meeting held at Mumbadevi in Mumbai on Wednesday.
At the rally held in support of Mumbadevi candidate Sakpal, Lodha had delivered a speech referring to previous instances of riots and terror attacks, claiming that the bombs and bullets used were manufactured “in lanes within 5 km” of the meeting venue. The constituency has a sizeable Muslim population.
The notices issued suo motu by Mumbadevi Returning Officer Vishwas Gujar sought responses on Lodha’s speech. Gujar said that the EC team present at the meeting, which took place between 5 pm to 10 pm at Kumbharwada in Mumbadevi, had recorded the speech. The notices were issued on the basis of the recording, a news report in The Indian Express and the rules regarding to the model code of conduct in place, he added.
Gujar said that a response was sought as soon as possible and a decision on future course of action will be taken within 48 hours. Lodha, who was one of the speakers at the meeting, spoke about the 1992 riots and the blasts that took place later, claiming that the bombs used were manufactured in lanes within 5 km from the rally venue. He claimed that the current MLA, Amin Patel, looked at the interests of “one particular community”. He also the gathering that how a person who is elected with votes from those lanes “will take care of you in times to come”.
The AAP said that it will file a formal complaint with the EC while calling the remarks a “serious violation” of the code of conduct rules. In a statement, the party said that the comments draw various sections of the Indian Penal Code related to “hate speech and outright incitement”.
The EC, meanwhile, also issued a showcause notice to the principal of Rizvi Springfield High School at Bandra (West) in Mumbai, following media reports that BJP’s ‘Jansampark Abhiyaan’ forms were allegedly distributed at the school premises during a Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) meeting on Wednesday.
The notice was issued by Bandra (West) Returning Officer Umesh Biraari. The principal has been asked to reply by Friday evening, following which the EC will decide on the future course of action. Baraari told The Indian Express, “Based on the media report, we have issued a showcause notice to the principal. We have also received a complaint from Congress candidate from the constituency, Asif Zakaria. If the allegations in the media are found to be true, an FIR can be registered. Conversely, the matter would be dropped if there is no evidence of the same.”
In a letter to the State Election Commission, the school has stated that the meeting was to create awareness among parents to vote in the upcoming elections and that they misunderstood it as promotion of a political party.
The incident allegedly took place on Wednesday when parents of several students of the school had come for a PTA meeting. Once the parents reached the school, they alleged they were given BJP ‘Jansampark Abhiyaan’ pamphlets and asked to provide details like their Aadhar and voter ID card numbers as well as names and contact numbers of family members above 18 years of age.
The forms had the photographs of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Bandra (West) BJP candidate Ashish Shelar. Several parents left in anger. Zakaria, in his letter to Biraari, has called the incident “a pure case of violation of the code of conduct”.
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