Poll panel reads Vaghela the riot act

Shankersinh Vaghela

The Election Commission on Monday issued a notice to Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela for allegedly making communal speech while campaigning in Gujarat, where elections are stated on December 13 and 17.

The Commission, in its meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, decided to issue the notice after prima facie finding that Vaghela had violated the model code of conduct by making speeches in Surat that made references to the post-Godhra violence.

"You have prima facie violated the model code of conduct by inciting the communal feelings of the people through your speech made at a particular meeting at BRC Gate ground in Surat on October 31," the EC said in its notice.

The EC has asked Vaghela to reply by 5 pm on November 15 as to why action should not be initiated against him for violating the code of conduct, besides the Representation of People Act and certain IPC provisions.

The EC's decision to issue the notice came after it received complaints by BJP against Vaghela, following which the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, and the District Electoral Officer in Surat gave their reports.

It had also received video-recording and transcripts of the speeches and those were seen before issuing the notice.

In his October 31 speech, Vaghela had made references to the Godhra incident and post-Godhra killings.

This was seen by the BJP as a brazen attempt to woo Muslim votes.

The former chief minister is reported to have reminded the voters about the post-Godhra violence and charged the Narendra Modi-led government of having orchestrated them.

The notice further read, "The Commission has obtained the CD of the proceedings and transcript of the above mentioned meeting where you have made the following objectionable and inflammatory speech."

Vaghela in his speech had said, "Godhra tragedy occurred. The train compartment was burnt. You people try to understand this conspiracy...Massacre was planned to get votes of the Hindus."

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