EC pulls up BJP Mumbai chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha for communal speech at election rally, issues show-cause notice

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: October 18, 2019

The BJP Mumbai Chief had referred to previous instances of riots and terror attacks at a rally in support of Mumbadevi candidate Pandurang Sakpal


The Election Commission (EC) issued show-cause notices to BJP Mumbai Chief Mangal Pratap Lodha, Shiv Sena candidate from Mumbadevi Pandurang Sakpal and the organiser of the campaign meeting on Thursday for the Assembly polls to be held on October 21.

At the rally, held in support of Sakpal, Lodha had delivered a communally charged speech referring to previous instances of riots and terror attacks, claiming that bombs and bullets were manufactured ‘in lanes within 5 km’ of the meeting venue. The venues he cunningly mentioned to were Dongri and Nagpada, which along with the constituency, have a sizeable Muslim population.

The notice was issued suomotu by Mumbadevi Returning Officer Vishwas Gujar who sought responses to Lodha’s speech. The EC team that was present at the meeting that took place in Kumbharwada, had recorded the speech. The notices were issued on the basis of this recording, a news report carried by The Indian Express and the rules regarding the Model Code of Conduct, Gujar said.

Lodha, one of the speakers at the meeting, had spoken about 1992 riots and blasts, claiming that bombs and bullets were manufactured ‘in lanes within 5 km’ from the venue. He had also stated that MLA Amin Patel only worked keeping the interests of ‘one particular community’ in mind.
Gujar said that a response was sought from the three as soon as possible and that the EC would arrive on the decision of future course of action within 48 hours.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also said that it would file a formal complaint with the EC in this matter of a ‘serious violation’ of the code of conduct rules. In a statement, the party said that the comments draw various sections of the Indian Penal Code related to “hate speech and outright incitement”.

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), known for its work in the area of defending minority rightsalso registered a formal complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer against Lodha citing that his speech was a clear case of the violation of Rule 3 of the Election Model Code of Conduct. Not only this, CJP stated that it was violation of Section 123 (3A) of the Representation of People’s Act which deals with ‘corrupt practices’ related to promotion of feelings of enmity and hatred between different sections of people on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language.

CJP has moved the EC to pass necessary strictures against BJP’s Mumbai Unit President Mangal Prabhat Lodha and direct him to issue an unconditional apology.

In another serious violation of the rules, the EC also issued a show-cause notice to the Principal of Rizvi Springfield High School in Bandra (W) in for allegedly distributing BJP’s ‘Jansampark Abhiyaan’ forms during a Parent and Teachers Association (PTA) meeting on Wednesday.
The notice was issued by Bandra (W) Returning Officer Umesh Biraari who has sought a response from the Principal by the evening of October 18, 2019. Baraari told The Indian Express, “Based on the media report, we have issued a show cause notice to the principal. We have also received a complaint from Congress candidate from the constituency, Asif Zakaria. If the allegations in the media are found to be true, an FIR can be registered. Conversely, the matter would be dropped if there is no evidence of the same.”

In its defense, the school has written a letter to the State Election Commission stating that it was only trying to create awareness among the parents to vote in the upcoming elections and said that the parents had mistaken this activity to be the promotion of a political party.
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