The BJP today accused the Congress of playing “communal card” in the poll-bound Karnataka to woo Muslim voters and claimed the state’s chief electoral officer was not acting on its complaints, with a delegation of Union ministers moving the Election Commission demanding action against opposition leaders.
Union minister and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari led the delegation to the commission and told reporters later that they had provided “evidence” to back their charges against Congress leaders and state government officials to the election watchdog.
Gadkari alleged Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge in their campaign in a Muslim locality in the state sought the community’s votes for their party in the name of Islam.
Another Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress leaders told Muslims that their votes for the party will be in the service of Islam, which is in “danger”, as he asserted that such rank communalism is a crime under The Representation of People Act.
The state goes to polls on May 12.
Prasad said the Congress is desperate as it is set to lose the polls and that is why its government in the state and its leaders are resorting to various tactics to weaken the BJP’s campaign.
Besides action against the Congress leaders, the BJP has demanded that a few deputy commissioners and some other state officials be removed, he said.
The BJP delegation, which also included Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Dharmendra Pradhan besides senior party leader Arun Singh, also alleged that the Congress is full of moneybags in the state and they were distributing money.
Pressure cookers with names of Congress leaders embossed on them have been found but no action was taken by the state election commission officials, they said.
While the Congress campaign vehicles are allowed to move around freely, those of the BJP were seized, they alleged.
“The state government has resorted to abuse of power through a handful of officials,” Prasad said, alleging that the media was also pressured by them to not carry “breaking news” of the BJP or money due to them would not be released.
“There has been unduly long delays in according permission for even small requests made by BJP candidates and its workers,” the memorandum submitted by the BJP to the EC said, adding that such tactics are meant to “hurt” its campaign.
In Udupi district, the memorandum said, the deputy commissioner allegedly at the behest of the Congress ordered removal of saffron flags from temples and banned a traditional art and cultural practise.