The Election Commission (EC) is learnt to have sought the video footage of a public meeting attended by Union Minister of State for Skill Development Ananth Kumar Hegde in Karnataka last week to determine whether he indeed made communally divisive remarks about Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
According to sources, the EC took suo motu cognizance of media reports that Hegde, while speaking at a public meeting in Sirsi town of Uttara Kannada district on March 9, had questioned Gandhi’s claims of being a Hindu and a Brahmin by raising the issue of his parentage. He did this while criticising the Congress for questioning the pre-emptive strikes on a terrorist camp in Pakistan last month. Click here for more election news | Read this story in Malayalam
“They want proof it seems (of the airstrikes in Pakistan). They want proof of what the soldiers have done. Can this son of a Muslim give proof that he is a Brahmin as he claims? His father is a Muslim and mother is a Christian, how did he become a Brahmin? Can he provide any proof?” Hegde was quoted as saying.
Hegde has repeatedly questioned Rahul’s claims of being a Brahmin over the past few months. In January, he had said that Rahul cannot be a Brahmin or a Hindu since his father was a Muslim (in an apparent reference to Rajiv Gandhi’s father Feroze Gandhi).
The Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which is enforced from the date of announcement of elections till the last date of polling, prohibits political parties and candidates from directly attacking their competitors. In fact, it expects parties and their leaders to not attack their opponents personally and limit their criticism to policies and programmes.
Although Hegde’s statement on Gandhi is a violation of the above provision of the MCC, the question before the Commission will be whether it can initiate action for a remark made a day before the Code kicked in.