New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday accused Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of making "hate speeches" in poll-bound Karnataka and urged the Election Commission to put a ban on campaigning by them in the wake of Supreme Court orders on such speeches.
A delegation of Congress leaders comprising Ajay Maken, Vivek Tankha, Salman Khurshid and Pawan Khera met the Election Commission and gave them a memorandum demanding immediate action against such "hate speeches".
"The home minister says such things which polarise the country and create division in society..., neither the Constitution provides for such a thing nor does the oath they take while assuming the high office. We have pointed this out to the Election Commission," Tankha told reporters after the meeting.
He asked what the home minister meant by saying that "there would be riots in India if the Congress comes to power".
"Does he mean to say that the Congress is getting the riots done...The real thing is that people holding constitutional positions should not make such kind of hate speeches. It is against the law and immediate action should be taken against them as per Supreme Court orders," he said.
The Congress memorandum by AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Randeep Surjewala, said it has clearly emerged after the successive rallies of three star campaigners of the BJP - Union minister Amit Shah, chief minister Yogi Adityanath and party president J P Nadda - that they are first making unverified and false allegations and thereafter following it with malicious and deliberate statements targeting religions with the intent to promote enmity between different groups.
"We reiterate our concern that this is a case of a well hatched criminal conspiracy to committing offences against public tranquillity, and offences relating to elections and offences related to criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance," the memorandum said.
It added that the pattern has started adversely affecting the election process and the inaction from this commission is furthering the agenda of creating communal disharmony.
"We reiterate our request to this commission to ban Sh Amit Shah, Mr Yogi Adityanath and Mr J P Nadda from all campaign activities till the conclusion of the election," Surjewala said in the memorandum.
The opposition party has alleged that the BJP leaders are trying to "scare, divide and mislead the society through 'hate speech' in the country".
Khurshid said, "We have made a complaint earlier but no action has been taken on our complaint yet."
"We have said that if there is no action against such people who hold responsible positions and repeatedly make such statements which amount to hate, then it will keep increasing and there should be an end to such speeches immediately. The EC has assured us that it will look into the complaints seriously," he said.
Tankha said, "If constitutional authorities do not follow the law and the Constitution and will indulge in hate speeches, then neither the Constitution permits this and nor does the oath that they have taken."
What these three people have said comes under the purview of "hate speech" and the EC should take action against them, he said, adding that the EC has constitutional responsibility and there was concern and seriousness displayed by them during the meeting.
"Home minister is a big position and is a protector of the country and should not be talking about riots like this."
Tankha said the Congress delegation gave the EC copies of the Supreme Court order on hate speeches and called for immediate action as per the law of the land and the SC verdict.
"We have made representations specifically against three people - Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
"We have urged the Election Commission to take action as per law against these people in the wake of Supreme Court orders which has called for immediate action on hate speeches," he said.
The three BJP leaders have been alleging that "if the Congress comes to power, there would be riots" in the state, which amounts to hate speech as such speeches lead to a division in society, the Congress leaders said.
The Congress memorandum also said the BJP has given advertisements to spread "false, unverified and malicious allegations" against the Congress with the aim to influence the voters against the party in the upcoming assembly elections in Karnataka.
"The Commission allowing publication of BJP's advertisements containing prima facie unverified, false and malicious allegations, while at the same time disallowing INC's advertisements containing verified allegations and claims, clearly removed the level-playing field that must be maintained by the Commission.
"In the interest of justice, equity, good conscience and for the sake of free and fair elections, we sincerely request this Commission to pass strictures against the BJP and its representatives to further issue directions to take down all political advertisements where the BJP has deliberately made false and unsubstantiated claims, direct the state authorities to register an FIR against the publishers, authors and representatives of the BJP," the party said.
Amit Shah had made remarks at a poll rally in Bagalkot in Karnataka on April 25 and in Vijayapura, alleging that the state of Karnataka will be afflicted by communal riots. The Congress has already complained to the EC on April 28.
"The Commission may note the pattern, which is being followed by Mr Amit Shah, Mr Ajay Bisht (Adityanath) and now Mr J P Nadda. It may be reiterated that the BJP and its leaders first raise unverified and false allegations against the INC and its leaders, thereafter bring in malicious allegations which involve religion and which tends to promote or create enmity between groups on grounds of religion," the memorandum said.
Extending the scope of its 2022 order beyond three states, the Supreme Court had on Friday directed all states and Union territories to register cases against those making hate speeches even if no complaint has been made.
A bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna termed hate speeches a "serious offence capable of affecting secular fabric of the country". The bench said its October 21, 2022 order shall be made applicable irrespective of religion and warned any delay in registering cases will be treated as contempt of the court.