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Amit Shah's Muzaffarnagar remark sparks row, Congress, AAP seek arrest
Saturday April 5, 2014 9:20 PM, IANS

The Congress and the AAP Saturday rapped on the Election Commission's door against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's close aide Amit Shah over his remark on the Muzaffarnagar riots. The Bharatiya Janata Party defended Shah, saying it saw "nothing wrong in his remark".

Shah reportedly said in a recent election meeting in Muzaffarnagar that "this election is about voting out the government that protects and gives compensation to those who killed Jats. It is about badla (revenge) and protecting izzat (honour)".

He was accompanied by BJP legislator Suresh Rana, who was an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots in which over 60 people, mostly Muslims, had died, while thousands were rendered homeless.

Attacking Shah for his "provocative hate speech", the Congress complained to the Election Commission Saturday.

The Congress sought his arrest and asked the panel to ban him from campaigning for "creating animosity between communities" in western Uttar Pradesh.

The party also demanded "stern action" against the BJP and Modi, including derecognition of the party, for the alleged violation of the model code of conduct.

"BJP, Modi and Amit Shah are trying to replicate the politics of hatred and communal divide like what was done in 2002 in Gujarat," Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters.

"We will make a demand to the state government and election commission that a criminal case is lodged against Amit Shah and Muzaffarnagar riots accused (legislator) Suresh Rana and they should be prevented from campaigning in any part of the country. There should be a complete ban (on them)."

The party said Amit Shah committed an offence under section 125 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, which calls for the immediate registration of an FIR and his arrest.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also went to the poll panel, seeking action against the former Gujarat minister for spreading communal hatred.

"The EC should not allow such elements to create hatred at such a sensitive juncture, when the country is in the midst of a general election. The remarks openly incite people of one community to take revenge against another religious community and cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

"It should immediately order registration of a criminal case against the BJP's national general secretary Amit Shah for his inflammatory remarks aimed at spreading communal hatred," the AAP said in a statement.

A complaint to the poll panel and minorities commission was also filed by Delhi-based lawyer and activist Shehzad Poonawalla.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, however, said: "We see nothing wrong in Amit Shah's statement."

She dragged Congress chief Sonia Gandhi into the controversy over her appeal to the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, and said the attempt to polarise the election was initiated by the "so-called secular" party.

BJP vice president and prominent Muslim leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, meanwhile, said the Uttar Pradesh government "has insulted the people there".

"It is not a question of Hindus and Muslims. Those who went there for secular tourism, they have insulted the people. Instead of putting balm on the wounds of the victims, they sprinkled salt. Revenge should be taken for this insult," he said.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said the party was not contesting the election on a communal plank, and instead blamed the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.

"It's the Congress, SP and BSP that are trying to play the communal card. We have never played the communal card nor would we," Rajnath Singh said.

The Janata Dal-United also condemned Amit Shah's remark, saying it was a "warning to all regional parties that if by mistake Modi becomes PM, then all state governments will be dismissed".

JD-U national spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said: "Saying 'apmaan ke badle apmaan' is highly objectionable."

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said: "Nobody in India can pull down a democratically elected majority government. The BJP leader seems to be ignorant about how strong the Indian democracy is."

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