A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on Monday lodged a complaint with the Election Commission seeking action against Rahul Gandhi for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct by appealing to votes on communal lines and inciting hatred among different communities.
They handed over a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, seeking withdrawal of recognition given to Congress that of a national party and also demanding action against the party's vice-president for violating the Code.
"It is respectfully prayed that appropriate action may kindly be taken against the Indian National Congress and Rahul Gandhi, vice president, Indian National Congress for violating the Model Code of Conduct and the recognition of Indian National Congress as a National Party may kindly be withdrawn immediately," the BJP memorandum to EC said.
BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed that the Congress is a "habitual and traditional violator of Model Code."
"We have requested the Election Commission for lodging an FIR against Rahul Gandhi for violating the Model Code of Conduct by giving speeches that incite communal hatred and tension between Hindu-Sikhs and Hindu-Muslims and make an appeal for votes in favour of Congress on communal lines," BJP's legal affairs cell chief Satya Pal Jain said.
He said the BJP has also demanded that the election symbol of the Congress be frozen.
The memorandum claimed that Gandhi's allegations against the BJP are "false and baseless" and highly inflammatory, inciting and likely to induce communal feelings.
Citing excerpts from Gandhi's speech made in Churu in Rajasthan last week, the Opposition party said its tone and tenor was to incite communal hatred and tension between Hindu-Sikhs and Hindu-Muslims and make an appeal for votes in the favour of Congress on the basis of communal sentiments.
"A conscious attempt has been made by Gandhi to mislead the public by trying to discredit the BJP by making absolutely false, baseless, unfounded allegations against the BJP and its leaders, which is against the very spirit of the Model Code of Conduct as well as healthy democratic practices," it said.
The BJP said since the allegations and utterances have not been withdrawn by Gandhi, "this inflammatory speech is a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct and accordingly Gandhi is liable to be proceeded against for the same."
It cited provisions of the Model Code which states that no appeal shall be made to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.
"However, the Indian National Congress and its leaders are flouting the code with impunity time and again."
The BJP leaders also cited past instances where Congress leaders like Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma, Shankarsinh Vaghela have violated the Model Code of Conduct during elections and have tendered an apology later.
Besides Naqvi and Jain, others who were a part of the BJP delegation included Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Pinky Anand.