West Bengal elections: EC sends notice to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari over communal overtones in speech

The Election Commission of India issued a show-cause notice to BJP heavy-weight Suvendu Adhikari for alleged communal overtones in his speech made last month. This comes a day after the polls body sent a similar notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for demanding votes on communal grounds.

In its notice, the EC asked Adhikari to submit his explanation within 24 hours of receipt of the notice, failing which the commission “shall take a decision without further reference to you”.

A complaint against Adhikari was lodged by CPI-ML central committee member Kavita Krishnan, where she alleged that on March 29, Adhikari, a BJP candidate from Nandigram, delivered a hate speech while addressing a public meeting there.

An authenticated transcript of the alleged speech has also been received from the Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal, the commission said, adding that the relevant part of the speech said, “I am fond of singing and hearing kirtans. I have nothing new to tell you. On one hand, Begum is competing against us… You are not giving votes to Begum. If you vote for Begum there will be a mini-Pakistan. A Dawood Ibrahim has come up in your locality.”

It should be mentioned here that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting against Adhikari in Nandigram.

In another portion of the speech, Adhikari said, “Which puja is coming next? Ramnabami. With which flower did Ramchandra worship Maa Durga? All of you should therefore vote for Lotus.”

The commission said that the statement made by Adhikari on March 29 has been examined and the same has been found to be in violation of Clauses (2) and (3) of Part I of the Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.

The commission asked Adhikari to explain his stand for making the above-mentioned statement within 24 hours of receipt of the notice, failing which the commission will take a decision without further reference to him.

Elections for the 294-member Bengal Assembly are being conducted in eight phases. While the first three phases have been completed, the remaining five phases will be held on April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. The results will be declared on May 2.

(With IANS inputs)

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