Lucknow: Days after the Election Commission warned all political parties from making statements based on religion or face stern action, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday filed a complaint with the poll panel against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for hurting religious sentiments, by co-relating the symbol of Congress with religious gods such as Shiv, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Allah and Mahavir.
In a complaint to the Chief Electoral Officer, the BJP has alleged that Rahul, during a Jan Vedna Sammelan convention, held in Delhi, violated the provisions of Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, Model Code of Conduct and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.
“The entire tone and tenor of Rahul Gandhi, while passing the remarks, was to incite the religious feelings of the people, by co-relating the symbol of Indian National Congress with religious god of different religion. Rahul Gandhi made a serious attempt to take advantage of religious sentiments of people in favour of Indian National Congress,” the complaint read.
It further said that Rahul Gandhi’s statements were aimed to put ‘false and baseless’ notions in the minds of people that Shiv, Guru Nanak, Budha and Mahavir’s pictures are symbolising the Congress symbol.
During the convention, on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi said that he saw the Congress symbol – an open palm – in the photos of gods belonging to various religions. “I was told that the Congress party was around 100 years old. But one day, when I was going through some photos, I saw the Congress symbol in a photo of Shivji,” Rahul said. “I thought that was very strange. So I looked at some other photos. And I saw a photo of Guru Nanak ji and the Congress symbol was there too,” Rahul said, adding that he also saw the Congress symbol in the photos of Buddha and Mahavir.
He then went on to say that, “I then asked Karan Singh ji (Congress leader): Why is the Congress symbol visible in every religion like Islam, Hinduism, Judaism?” Rahul said. “Karan Singh ji told me: This means, daro matt (don’t be afraid). Don’t be afraid of the present conditions. Face the truth,” he added.
This development comes in the wake of the Election Commission issuing an advisory to all political parties, calling on them to refrain from making statements based on religion, or face stern action.
In a statement, the poll panel called on all political parties and its leaders to “desist from making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between different sections of society on the basis of religion, which disturbs peace and tranquilly of the society which is absolutely essential for free and peaceful conduct of elections.”
The Commission further warned that it will not remain a “silent spectator” if the provisions of law or the Model Code of Conduct are violated and no one can do it with impunity.