nThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday moved the Election Commission (EC) and also the Supreme Court seeking action against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for repeatedly calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a thief” and also attributing to the Supreme Court things it did not say in the Rafale jet case.
A BJP delegation, comprising Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and its media head Anil Baluni, met EC officials and expressed the party’s “disappointment” with the poll body, saying it has looked the other way despite their repeated pleas to it against Rahul for his “baseless” allegations against Modi.
For her part, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Rahul for attributing his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ comment against PM Modi to the apex court. The matter is listed for April 15 (Monday) for hearing.
Pointing to Rahul’s remarks on Wednesday that the apex court has acknowledged that Modi is a “thief” and that he gave `30,000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani, Naqvi said such “lies” and “baseless allegations” are not only violative of the Model Code of Conduct but also fall under “corrupt practices”, as described in the Representation of People Act. The court had never said such a thing, he said.
“The Congress President is using abusive words and statements that are untrue. He is repeatedly calling the Prime Minister ‘chor’ without any evidence despite the Supreme Court’s December verdict in the Rafale case, and also putting words into the mouth of Supreme Court,” Sitharaman told reporters.
“We have complained to the EC that neither the Supreme Court nor the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have said anything of this kind. But the EC did not take cognizance. It looked the other way. “During election time if he is uttering words which are untrue, can the Election Commission ignore it?” the BJP leader asked.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that ‘chowkidarji’ (watchman) has committed a theft,” Gandhi told reporters after filing his nomination papers in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. “The way Congress president Rahul Gandhi has used defamatory language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government. He has been spreading lies repeatedly by calling the Prime Minister a ‘chor’ in connection with the Rafale deal issue, despite the Supreme Court’s order in the matter,” Sitharaman said.
She further said that the Congress leader said at a public rally that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was proven guilty of corruption in the Rafale deal and giving `30,000 crore to Anil Ambani, who is the chairman of the offset partner in the deal Reliance Defence.
“We all know (the) Congress president probably doesn’t even read even half a paragraph. By saying that the court has said ‘Chowkidar chor hai,’ these (statements) verge on contempt of court,” Sitharaman said, adding that Rahul is showing signs of frustration.
“The person who himself is on bail, violating every norm of political decency alleging things which the court has never said. He has lost all sense of decency by causing contempt of court,” Sitharaman said.
In the context of the first phase of the Lok Sabha election held on Thursday, the ministers also alleged that Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers had engaged in “rigging and booth capturing” during the voting process in West Bengal. The BJP demanded re-polling in 297 booths in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituency that voted on Thursday in the first phase of polling.
Appearing on behalf of Lekhi’s petition, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, told the bench that Congress president made a remark that the “Supreme Court has said, chowkidaar chor hai” in the verdict.