BJP delegation moves EC after Sidhu's remark

BJP delegation moves EC after Sidhu's remark

Navjot Singh Sidhu exhorted Muslims in Bihar to unite and vote for the Congress

After cricketer-turned-politician and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu exhorted Muslims in Bihar to unite and vote for his party, the BJP on Tuesday raised the bogey of nationalism and lashed out at the Opposition, accusing it of dividing people on the lines of religion for votes.

Later, a high-level delegation of the BJP approached the Chief Election Commissioner on Sidhu's remark accusing him of "raising communal passions."

The saffron party also sought a review of the poll panel's decision to ban Hindutva icon and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours.

Union minister J P Nadda, who led the delegation comprising Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Gen V K Singh to EC, said Adityanath's remarks of “Bajrangbali” was in response to BSP supremo Mayawati's “Ali” remarks and that the BJP leader only exercised his “right to retort and respond.”

“Yogiji only responded to Mayawati's appeal to Muslim voters. He did not make any appeal or influence any community. We have right to retort and respond in elections, though it is not codified by the election commission. We have urged EC to consider reviewing its decision keeping in view right to retort and Yogiji's track record as UP chief minister,” Nadda said

Sidhu, who is a minister in the Congress government in Punjab, stoked controversy after he exhorted a sizable population of Muslims in Katihar to vote for Congress to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in elections.

Reacting sharply to Sidhu's remark, senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also attacked Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi for her criticism of the saffron party over its interpretation of nationalism, asking how Sidhu's call to Muslims in Katihar district of Bihar could help the country.

The BJP leader, who is contesting from the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat in Bihar against actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, also targetted the BSP and Trinamool Congress, saying both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee were singing the tune of the Congress on the issue of nationalism.

“Nationalism, national security and national self-confidence have come at the centre of the discourse during elections because of the Opposition leaders seeking evidence of sacrifice in Balakot and the way they have sought to question the tough action against terrorism. We welcome that. The people of the country are going to respond to it,” Prasad sais while addressing a press conference at BJP headquarters here.