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EC serves notice to Sidhu on Muslim remark

The Election Commission on Saturday issued a notice to cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for his recent speech asking Muslims to vote en bloc for his party Congress's candidate in Katihar Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar, Tariq Anwar.

The EC noted that Sidhu, a minister of the Congress government in Punjab, had not only violated the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of People's Act 1951, but also disobeyed an order of the Supreme Court.

The poll-panel asked Sidhu to submit his explanation by Sunday.

Sidhu was campaigning for Anwar in Katihar on April 15 when he called upon the Muslims of the constituency not to allow people like All India All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi to split their votes for the advantage of the BJP. He said that if the Muslims votes en bloc for Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be defeated.

The local BJP unit lodged a complaint against Sidhu with the EC. The poll panel acted on the complaint and issued the notice to Sidhu on Saturday.

The EC pointed out that Para (3) of Part I of the 'General Conduct' of the “Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of Political Parties and Candidates”, provided that no one should appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Besides, the sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 also prohibited seeking votes in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language or by using or appealing to religious symbols.

The Supreme Court too held in 2017 that religion and caste could not be used by anyone while making any statement during electioneering or otherwise.

The EC wrote to Sidhu that it was prima facie of the opinion that he had violated the provisions of the MCC and the R P Act, 1951 and also willfully disobeyed the order of the Supreme Court by making the impugned statements.

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