New Delhi : The Election Commission on Wednesday conveyed its displeasure to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for linking the Muzaffarnagar riot victims to Pakistan spy agency ISI and served a show-cause notice to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi returnable by Saturday 5 pm for his “khooni panja” (bloody hand) remark at a poll rally in Chhattisgarh last week.

In a 5-page order on the BJP filing four complaints against Rahul’s remarks at poll rallies at Churu in Rajasthan on October 23 and at Indore on October 24, the Election Commission rejected his explanation as not satisfactory and taking totality of facts and submissions into consideration advised him “to be more circumspect in your public utterances during election campaigns.”

Even while acknowledging “the underlying intention and spirit of your impugned speeches to foster and promote communal harmony,” the EC took exception to “the tone, tenor and content” of his objectionable remarks, saying these were not in consonance with the letter and spirit of the model code of conduct.

In case of the notice issued to Modi on the complaint by the Congress, the EC said prima facie he had violated the model code of conduct, prohibiting criticism of other parties on unverified allegations and distortions” and sought his explanation why action should not be taken against him.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman asserted that Modi had not violated the model code and yet the EC notice would be looked into carefully and replied.

Since hand is its election symbol, the Congress complained to the EC seeking stern action against Modi for terrorising the voters by making “intemperate, malicious and defamatory” remarks by referring to the hand symbol, allotted by the Commission to Congress, as “Khooni Panja” and “Jalim Haath.”

In his reply, Rahul had denied any code violation, asserting that his contentions were “based on the facts established by various judicial commissions of inquiry and even by the guiding philosophy of the party as reflected in its website” and not to create any hatred or tension between different communities but to promote communal harmony and unity. He had quoted from late RSS chief Guru Golwalkar available on the BJP website to justify his contention.

The EC had served him notice on October 31 for violating the model code by saying that Pakistan”s ISI was in touch with Muzaffarnagar riot victims and charged BJP with indulging in politics of hatred. The BJP complained that he was seeking votes on communal lines and inciting communal hatred.

The model code prescribes that “no party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic” and that “criticism of other political parties…based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided” and “there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.”

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