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EC files criminal case against Varun Gandhi

Press Trust Of India
Mar 20, 2009 at 03:50pm IST

Pilibhit/New Delhi: Cracking the whip, the Election Commission on Tuesday moved against Varun Gandhi, BJP candidate and a member of the Gandhi-Nehru family, for his anti-Muslim speeches and police quickly filed a case against him.

As his remarks triggered a political storm and came under attack from within the party and allies, the three-member Commission met and considered the speeches made by Gandhi in Pilibhit in which he had, among other things, threatened to cut the hands of those who would raise their hands against Hindus.

ALSO SEE Varun's speech: BJP asks leaders to be careful

In a slew of decisions, the EC directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to file a case against Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act against Gandhi and issued a notice to him for violation of Model Code of Conduct.

IN TROUBLE: Varun Gandhi made the speech targeting Muslims on March 6.

BJP was also slapped with a notice over Gandhi's remarks.

ALSO SEE BJP says abusing religion is not party culture

Shortly later, the Station Officer of Barkhera filed a case against Gandhi under provisions of IPC and RPA relating to speeches intended to cause enmity among people on religious grounds.

The provisions speak of punishment of imprisonment up to three years.

Under the law, a person convicted of an offence with imprisonment of not less than two years, could be barred from contesting elections.

The Commission also ordered transfer of district officials and suspended two others for dereliction of duty.

The Commission sought an explanation from Gandhi, who is making his electoral debut from Pilibhit, for alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct.

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The Commission's action also came on a day when a Congress delegation met the EC to complain Gandhi's speech, calling it "highly deplorable" deserving proper action.

Gandhi, whose mother Maneka Gandhi is a BJP MP, also faced strong criticism from within the party.

Senior leader Shanawaz Hussain termed the remarks "shocking" and demanded an unconditional apology from him.

Another leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also assailed the remarks saying they are a manifestation of his family's past Congress culture.

Rattled by the controversy, the BJP itself asked its party candidates to observe caution and restraint in their speeches.

"We do not subscribe to such views," party spokesperson Siddarth Nath Singh said.

Party Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, however, ruled out any action against Gandhi, saying he is campaigning for the party and he is a party candidate.

"What he has said in his speeches is being looked into by the EC," he said.

Gandhi's offensive remarks also came under the scanner at a meeting of the BJP's Central Election Committee where Muslim leaders voiced concern.

Under attack, Gandhi on Tuesday claimed that the CD containing his speech has been tampered with.

"I know it has been (tampered with)" when reporters asked him whether the video footage of his speeches has been tampered with.

"All I want to say is that tomorrow I will be addressing a press conference in Delhi and I will be clarifying my stand on every single issue... I will be addressing from a proper party forum," the young scion of the

Gandhi family said.

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