New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday sought one week’s more time from the Election Commission (EC) to reply to its notice on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over his “khooni panja” remarks during campaigning for the polls in Chhattisgarh.
In a letter to the EC, BJP said that since Mr. Modi was busy with the campaigning for elections, the party has not been able to discuss the issue with him and thus be given more time.
Mr. Modi, who was served with the EC notice on November 13, 2013, had been given time till Saturday morning to reply as to why action should not be initiated against him for his “khooni panja” remarks, allegedly in reference to the Congress poll symbol, which is a picture of a hand.
“He is busy in the last phase of the poll campaign in Chhattisgargh,” said BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
A video copy of Mr. Modi’s speech of November 7, 2013, in Dongargarh Rajnandgaon of Chhattisgarh was obtained by the EC along with the remarks of the Returning Officer before the notice was served on the BJP prime ministerial candidate.
The EC said in its notice that if no reply is received within the prescribed time, it will be presumed Mr. Modi has nothing to say. The Commission said it would then take appropriate action without any further reference to him.
EC had earlier issued a similar notice to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for saying that some victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots had been approached by Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and accusing BJP of spreading hatred among communities. EC has expressed its displeasure to Mr. Gandhi over the comments and asked him to be more circumspect in his public utterances in the future.
The poll watchdog has said that since the Model Code of Conduct was in force in Chhattisgarh in the run up to elections, criticism of other political parties is not permitted.
Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh are being held in two phases, on November 11 and 19, 2013.