The BJP on Friday urged the Election Commission to file a criminal case against Mallikarjun Kharge and bar him from campaigning in the Karnataka assembly polls, stepping up its attack on the Congress president for his “poisonous snake” barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Union minister Bhupender Yadav, who led a BJP delegation to the Election Commission, told reporters that Kharge’s comment was not merely a slip of the tongue but part of the Congress’ “hate politics” as he accused the party of working to spread disharmony and provoke people ahead of the high-stakes polls in the southern state.
BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said Kharge is a “habitual offender” and noted that Congress leaders have made a number of “hateful” personal attacks on Modi.
The BJP has demanded registration of an FIR under IPC Sections 499 and 500, which deal with defamation, and Section 504, which deals with the offence of deliberate insults and provocation.
The delegation also included BJP chief spokesperson Anil Baluni and party leader Om Pathak.
Addressing a campaign rally for the May 10 Karnataka assembly polls, Kharge likened Modi to a “poisonous snake”. As a row erupted, he later sought to clarify that his remarks were not aimed at the prime minister but at the ruling BJP.
The BJP’s memorandum to the poll watchdog said, “Election Commission is empowered under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to ensure that no one indulges in making false, unverified, baseless allegations to violate electoral laws and indulge in behaviour which tear apart the sanctity of the MCC.” “Kharge should be barred from campaigning in Karnataka elections so as to contain the spread of such acrimonious campaign and set an example that the Commission will not brook any violation of MCC or other laws of the land,” it added.
Comparing anyone to a poisonous snake in Indian society projects such an individual as an “enemy, untrustworthy, unfaithful, treacherous, and deceitful,” it said, adding that Kharge and his party are repeat offenders.
“Use of such vulgar and abusive language to tarnish the image of a respected prime minister clearly shows the level to which the Congress has plummeted…. Such perverse pronouncements, if not checked effectively, will not only vitiate the electoral atmosphere, but will also further encourage the Congress rank and file in lowering the levels of propriety of the quality of political discourse,” it said.