Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has courted controversy by appealing to Muslims “to vote unitedly” and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At a public meeting in Katihar, which goes to the 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 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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The comments by the former cricketer on Monday at a rally in Katihar, where he was campaigning for veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Tariq Anwar, drew an angry response from the BJP.
Taking exception to Sidhu’s remarks, BJP alleged that dividing people was in the DNA of the Congress. Addressing the 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 J P Nadda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and V K Singh, also asked the EC to take action Sidhu, alleging that he tried to “spread hatred” with his speech in Katihar.
District authorities in Katihar lodged an FIR against Sidhu for his remarks, Bihar CEO H R Srinivasa said Tuesday. “An FIR has been lodged against Sidhu under a section Indian Penal Code and section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act,” he said.