The Election Commission has issued a showcause notice to Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his alleged remarks that the Narendra Modi government has enacted a new law which allows tribal to be shot at. Citing his speech made in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh on April 23, the commission pointed at a provision of the model code which bars "unverified" allegations to be levelled against political opponents. Gandhi has been given 48 hours to respond to the notice, failing which it will take action without further reference to him.
Two BJP workers had approached the EC with the complaint, following which a report was sought from MP poll authorities. According to a broad translation of the Hindi speech available on the internet, Gandhi had alleged: "Narendra Modi government has made a new law for tribals in which there is a line that says tribals can be shot at...They snatch your land, take away your jungle and water and then say that tribals can be shot at."
Gandhi is not the only Congressman to get EC notice. The poll panel had earlier issued a notice to Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for allegedly making personal remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Ahmedabad on April 17. Sidhu had attacked PM Modi by saying him a thief. "China is building a railway line beneath the sea. US is finding life on Mars. Russia is trying to build an army of robots. And what is India doing? We are making a 'chowkidar' who is actually a 'chor' (thief). I am telling you that you are indeed a thief," Sidhu had said. He also said those behind the Godhra incident had no right to question him or talk about patriotism.
The cricketer-turned-politician made the remarks while addressing a rally in Dholka town of Ahmedabad district. Sidhu said those behind the Godhra incident had no right to question him or talk about patriotism. "Tum Narendra Damodardas Modi, koi Godhra karaane wala Sardar Bhagwant Singh Sidhu ke bete ko sawal nahi kar sakta...rashtrabhakti ki baat nahi kar sakta. (You, Narendra Damodardas Modi...someone behind Godhra (incident) cannot question Sardar Bhagwant Singh Sidhu's son or talk about patriotism)," he said.
The Punjab minister was referring to the incident that occurred on the morning of 27 February 2002, in which 59 people died in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station. The incident triggered violence and large-scale riots across Gujarat. Modi was then the chief minister of the state.