The Election Commission of India Monday barred Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu from campaigning for 72 hours, effective from April 23, 10 am, for appealing Muslims “to vote unitedly”.
Sidhu made these comments at a public meeting in Katihar district of Bihar, which went on polls on April 18.
Sidhu said, “Main aapko chetavni dene aaya hoon Muslim behnon aur bhaiyon. Ye baant rahe hain aapko… Muslim bhaiyon, ye yahan pe (Asaduddin) Owaisi saheb jaise logon ko lake, ek nayi party saath me khadi karke aap logon ke voton ko baantkar jitna chahte hai. Tum log agar ikatthe hue, chousath pratishat aabadi hai aapki, minority majority mein hai yahan pe. Tum ikatthe hue aur ekjut hokar vote daala to sab ulat jayega, Modi sulat jayega… Chhakka lag jayega.” (I have come here to warn you, my Muslim sisters and brothers. These people are dividing you. By bringing in people like Owaisi and by raising a new party (AIMIM), they want to win by dividing your votes. If you people unite, you are 64 per cent of the population here. The minority is the majority here. If you gather and vote unitedly, everything would flip and Modi would be fixed. It will be a sixer.)
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Sidhu’s comments, however, did not go down too well with the BJP, which alleged that dividing people was a part of Congress’ DNA. While addressing media, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It is part of the Congress’s DNA to divide. It is not a new norm in this party.”
A BJP delegation, including Union Ministers JP Nadda, VK Singh, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, had urged the EC to take action against Sidhu, alleging that he tried to “spread hatred” with his speech.
An FIR was also filed against Sidhu in Bihar for his remarks. “An FIR has been lodged against Sidhu under a section Indian Penal Code and section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act,” Bihar CEO H R Srinivasa said.
Before Sidhu, the EC barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours on his “Modiji ki sena” comment during a public rally. He said, “Congress ke log atankwadiyon ko biryani khilate thhay, aur Modiji ki Sena atankwadiyon ko goli aur gola deti hai.” (Members of the Congress used to feed biryani to terrorists while Modiji’s army gives bullets and bombs to terrorists.)
The poll body also barred BJP’s Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for 48 hours for her comment on Muslim voters. She said, “I am winning the election… With the help and love of people. But if I win without help from Muslims, the feelings are soured. Then when Muslims come seeking jobs, I will think let it be, what difference does it make? After all, jobs are a kind of trade.”
Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan was barred for his remark against BJP’s Jaya Prada. “What is the difference between you and me? People of Rampur, people of Uttar Pradesh and the people of India. It took you 17 years to understand her true face. But I realised in 17 days… that she wears khakhi underwear,” Khan said at a public rally with party president Akhilesh Yadav and other senior leaders.