Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, who is the BJP candidate from Sultanpur in UP, told a crowd Thursday that she will not be inclined to help Muslims if they do not vote for her in the upcoming polls. With the UP poll office taking note of her speech, the district administration has served her notice.
In a video of her address, Maneka can be heard telling an audience of Muslim voters in Gaurabarik village in Sultanpur: “Mei jeet rahi hoon, mei jeet rahi hoon… Logon ki madad, logon ke pyaar se, mei jeet rahi hoon. Lekin agar meri jeet Musalmano ke bina hogi, toh mujhe bahot achha nahin lagega. Kyunki itna mei bata deti hoon, ki phir dil khatta ho jata hai, phir jab Musalman aata hai kaam ke liye, phir mei sochti hoon rehne hi do, kya fark padta hai. Aakhir naukri ek saudabaazi bhi toh hoti hai, baat sahi hai ki nahin? Yeh nahin ki hum log sab Mahatma Gandhi ki chhati aulad hain. Ki hum log aaye aur kewal dete hi jayenge, dete hi jayenge. Aur phir election mein maar khaate jayenge”
(“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. We are not like Mahatma Gandhi — that we will keep on giving, and then keep getting beaten in elections.”)
UP Additional Chief Electoral Officer Brahm Ram Dev Tiwari told The Indian Express that the poll panel had taken cognizance of her speech. “We have sought a report from the District Magistrate and will take the next step after we receive it,” Tiwari said.
Sultanpur, which goes to polls on May 12, has around 17.57 lakh voters, of which roughly 4 lakh are Muslim.
Sultanpur District Magistrate Dibya Prakash Giri told The Indian Express that the district administration had served notice to Maneka. “We are awaiting her response for further action,” Giri said.
Asked about the speech, Congress’s Sultanpur candidate Sanjay Singh said, “I will consult lawyers and see if we are going to complain to the EC. Though, if she has said this, she has only helped us.”
On Friday, Maneka told reporters: “I had myself called a meeting myself of our minority cell. You know I have had a special liking for minorities for years. My first election, I had made Nawab Shekhpur contest from Pilibhit. If you read the whole speech… The channel has taken one sentence, that too a part of it. I had said it with a lot of joy — that I have won. This you will also agree to, that my party has won… If you become a part of my win, then it will add flavour to this daal and I will really like it. This is what I had said.)”
In the video from Thursday, Maneka is also heard saying: “You will have to recognise this. We will win with you or without you. You will have to spread this everywhere. When I have come here and I am extending my hand of friendship… You ask in Pilibhit (her last constituency) over the phone how I was there. If you think I have made a mistake, then do not vote for me. But if you think that I have come with open arms and an open heart… You will need me. You have to lay the foundation to get your needs addressed, and this is the time.”
She continued: “Aapka jab polling booth ka result aayega, aur uss result mein 100 vote niklenge, ya 50 vote niklenge toh uske baad jab aap kaam ke liye aayenge, toh woh hi hoga mere saath. Isliye jab aap mere hi ho, toh kyun nahin mere hi raho.”
(“When the result of your polling booth is out and when there are only 100 or 50 votes for me… Then when you come to me for work, then I will have those votes with me. That is why if you are mine, then why not continue to be mine.”)
In the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Maneka’s son Varun Gandhi, contesting from Pilibhit, made a hate speech targeting Muslims: “Yeh panja nahi hai, yeh kamal ka haath hai. Yeh kat** ke galey ko kaat dega chunaav ke baad. Jai Shri Ram! Ram ji ki jai! Varun Gandhi kaat daalega! Kaat denge uss haath ko, kaat denge, kaat daalega!”
(“This is not the (Congress symbol) ‘hand’, this is the hand of the ‘lotus’. It will cut the throat of the (derogatory reference to a Muslim) after the elections… Varun Gandhi will cut… Will cut that hand, cut it, cut it.”)
He later claimed that the tape of his address had been doctored.