All eyes are on the Election Commission

The usual suspects spring to the PM’s defence even as the opposition waits for the Election Commission to take notice of the PM’s ‘divisive’ comments on Sunday

 Photo by Nand Kumar/PTI
Photo by Nand Kumar/PTI

NH Political Bureau

While a section of the media on Monday described the Prime Minister’s comments during an election speech at Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh on graveyards and cremation grounds as ‘fair, just and balanced’ and far from being divisive, spokespersons of several political parties confirmed that they were not planning to complain to the Election Commission.

However, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in an interaction with PTI journalists here, “It is a straightforward appeal, an effort for communal polarisation. The talk about kabristan (graveyard) and cremation, Holi and Eid, Diwali and Ramzan...the counter-posing (of these words) itself is an appeal to communal sentiments,"

Anand Sharma, MP and Congress spokesperson said the EC should take cognisance of the provocative statement and issue a notice to the PM on its own.

“The EC should discharge its constitutional duty by issuing a notice to the PM for his communal remarks. He’s not above the Constitution,” said the former Union Minister at a party briefing in Delhi on Monday.

Modi had said that if there is electricity supplied during Ramzan, then it must be available during Diwali too; if land is donated for ‘kabaristaan’ (cemetery) in a village, then there should be a ‘shamshaan’ (cremation ground) too. Though he claimed that he was talking against “politics of discrimination,” it was obvious what he was intending to convey.

“PM Modi, true to his form, is vitiating the election atmosphere in UP by stirring communal passions and polarising the society. His speech on cemetery and crematoria shows his mindset,” added Sharma.

The PM doesn’t mention his promise of creating two crore jobs, which has fallen flat with only 1.5 lakh jobs being created last year, said Sharma. In fact, after the November 8 decision to demonetise high denomination ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, about 4.5-5 crore jobs have been lost, alleged the former Minister of Commerce. “We challenge the NDA government to list out the promises that the PM has fulfilled,” he said.

Would there be more communally divisive speeches in the remaining four phases of UP polls? Much may depend on how the EC acts or reacts to the PM’s Fatehpur remarks.

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