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BJP, Cong seek EC ban on campaigning by leaders of other side in K'taka

Union minister Bhupender Yadav led a BJP delegation and urged the poll body to file a criminal case against Kharge and bar him from campaigning in the Karnataka assembly polls

Election Commission

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
With the election campaign in Karnataka witnessing a bitter war of words between the BJP and the Congress, both the parties rushed to the Election Commission Friday seeking ban on electioneering by top leaders of the other side.
While the BJP sought an FIR and a bar on campaigning by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress demanded restrictions on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Kharge is under attack from the BJP after he likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a "poisonous snake" during a poll rally. Shah and Yogi have been accused of flaring communal passions and creating disharmony in the poll-bound state with their statements against minorities.
Union minister Bhupender Yadav led a BJP delegation and urged the poll body to file a criminal case against Kharge and bar him from campaigning in the Karnataka assembly polls.
He later told reporters that Kharge's comment was not merely a slip of the tongue but part of the Congress' "hate politics".
BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said Kharge is a "habitual offender" and noted that Congress leaders have made a number of "hateful" personal attacks on Modi.
The BJP has demanded registration of an FIR under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with defamation, and Section 504, which deals with the offence of deliberate insults and provocation.
The delegation also included BJP chief spokesperson Anil Baluni and party leader Om Pathak.
After the row erupted over his "poisonous snake" barb, Kharge later clarified that his remarks were not aimed at the prime minister but at the ruling BJP and its ideology.
In retaliation to Kharge's remarks, BJP MLA from Vijayapur Basanagouda Patil Yatnal on Friday likened former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to a 'vishkanya' (venomous maiden).
"Kharge should be barred from campaigning in Karnataka elections so as to contain the spread of such acrimonious campaign and set an example that the Commission will not brook any violation of MCC or other laws of the land," the BJP memorandum to EC said.
Comparing anyone to a poisonous snake in Indian society projects such an individual as an "enemy, untrustworthy, unfaithful, treacherous, and deceitful", it said, adding that Kharge and his party are repeat offenders.
The Congress reached the Election Commission in the evening and urged it to ban Shah and Adityanath from campaigning for the May 10 Karnataka assembly polls for their alleged derogatory statements against the minority community that create an atmosphere of communal disharmony.
The delegation including Abhishek Singhvi, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mukul Wasnik, met the chief election commissioner and the election commissioners, and requested the poll panel to ensure a level-playing field in the southern state.
The Congress will also seek all legal options with regard to the "vishkanya" remark.
Alleging that Shah and Adityanath made "false", "partisan" and "communal" statements during the poll campaign in Karnataka with a view to seek electoral gains, and said they should be banned from campaigning in the state, the Congress accused them of trying to create an atmosphere of communal disharmony.
"The ECI should impose a clear and complete ban on Mr Amit Shah from all campaign activities till the conclusion of the election and further direct a ban on circulation of the videos of the rally with offending portions," a memorandum to the poll panel signed by All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Randeep Surjewala said.
Briefing reporters outside the EC office here, Singhvi said, "We have just finished a very productive and important meeting with the EC. We complained specifically about the highly objectionable, blatantly partisan, communal and false statements coming from the top BJP leadership, in particular Home Minister Amit Shah and the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
"They have made statements clearly against the minority community... We have asked for a ban on campaigning by such persons."

The Congress memorandum alleged: "Shah, in his desperation to improve their chances in the upcoming election, has sought to incite the law-abiding voters of the state of Karnataka by knowingly delivering false, baseless and uncertified statements before tens of thousands of voters, the video recording of which has even been circulated by the BJP to a far larger audience."

Quoting the home minister, the opposition party claimed that Shah had said, "Siddaramaiah, former chief minister of Karnataka, had released all PFI workers who were earlier kept in custody, and it was the BJP government that had to locate and jail them again."

The opposition party also claimed that Adityanath also told a poll rally on April 26 that "the Congress is an expert in appeasement politics as they are supporting the banned outfits like PFI in Karnataka ...BJP's 'double engine' government banned PFI and broke its backbone. There were no riots or curfew in Uttar Pradesh in the last six years".
"We ask that the ECI ban Shri Yogi Adityanath from all campaign activities till the conclusion of the election," the memorandum said.
Another issue raised by the Congress is against BJP candidate from Chamarajanagar and Varuna constituencies V Somanna, for offering bribe of Rs 50 lakh to JDS candidate Mallikarjun Swamyand promise to a government vehicle in return for withdrawing his candidate from the assembly elections.
The Congress has sought cancellation of his nomination from both the constituencies. He is also the BJP candidate against Siddharamaiah, who is the Congress' chief ministerial aspirant.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Apr 28 2023 | 9:58 PM IST

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