New Delhi: The Election Commission Saturday issued a showcause notice to Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his remarks in which he allegedly warned the Muslim community that efforts were on to divide their votes in Bihar. The EC said prima facie he has violated provisions of the model code of conduct, election law and a Supreme Court direction asking politicians not to mix religion with political discourse while electioneering. The Punjab minister has been asked to respond within 24 hours, failing which the EC will take a decision without further reference to him.
The poll panel pointed out that an FIR has already been lodged against him in Bihar’s Kathiar under some sections of the penal code and section 123 of the Representation of the People Act. Section 123 (3) bars promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person. Addressing an election rally in Katihar on April 16, the cricketer-turned-politician had stoked a controversy as he urged Muslim voters of a Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar with a sizeable population of the minority community to vote en bloc and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The comments by former test cricketer came at a rally in Katihar, where he was canvassing in support of veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Tariq Anwar. “Do not consider yourself as being in a minority. You constitute the majority here. You are about 64 per cent. Do not fall into the trap laid down by people like Owaisi (president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen). They have been propped up by the BJP,” Sidhu had said on Monday at a rally held at Barasol, in the Balrampur assembly segment under the Katihar Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.