Rahul Gandhi was ticked off by the Election Commission on Wednesday which expressed displeasure over the "tone, tenor and content" of certain remarks made during the poll campaign and asked him to be more circumspect in future.
Four days after Gandhi's eight-page reply to the EC denying having violated the model code, the poll body did not buy his explanation, saying it was not satisfied with his contentions.
"While the commission acknowledges the underlying intention and spirit of your impugned speeches to foster and promote communal harmony, it takes exception to the tone, tenor and content of the impugned portions of your speeches (extracted in the commission's notice) which are part of your said speeches.
"...The commission considers that the aforesaid portions of your speeches were not in consonance with the letter and spirit of the model code of conduct which prohibits any speeches or statements which may tend to aggravate differences between different religious communities and which also prohibits criticism of other political parties on the basis of unverified allegations," the five-page EC order said.
The commission said it is "not satisfied" with Gandhi's explanation furnished in his reply to the commission's notice. "Now, therefore, having regard to the totality of facts and circumstances of the case and submissions and contentions made by you in your reply under reference, the commission hereby conveys its displeasure and advises you to be more circumspect in your public utterances during election campaigns," it said.
Gandhi was served a notice by the commission on October 31 for model code violation over his remarks made in Churu on October 23 and in Indore on October, where he said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence was in touch with Muzaffarnagar riot victims and charged the Bharatiya Janata Party with indulging in politics of hatred.
Gandhi had pleaded not guilty to such charges while seeking to justify his controversial remarks.
The BJP had made several representations to the EC against Gandhi's remarks and demanded action against him. The EC noted that Gandhi sought to justify his remarks at Churu and Indore contending that he has criticised only the policies and programmes of the BJP based on facts established by various judicial commissions of enquiry and even by the guiding philosophy of that party as reflected in its website.
Gandhi had contended that the whole emphasis in his speeches was on maintenance and promotion of communal harmony and unity and had not been made with a view to creating any hatred or tension between different communities.
Citing excerpts from Gandhi's speech made in Churu in Rajasthan, the BJP had said its tone and tenor was to incite communal hatred and tension between Hindus-Sikhs and Hindus-Muslims and make an appeal for votes in favour of Congress on the basis of communal sentiments.
In Indore, Gandhi had, in his speech, claimed that intelligence agencies in Pakistan were approaching some victims of Muzaffarnagar riots to lure them to terrorism.
"The BJP felt that unless there is a Hindu versus Muslim situation in Uttar Pradesh, they would not do well. So, they set this fire," Rahul had alleged, adding it was the Congress that had "doused the fire".
"They (BJP) have set this fire, now who will douse it? Wherever they go, they set this fire thinking they will benefit in the elections. But they don't see that it damages the country," the Congress leader had said while accusing the BJP of spreading hatred among communities.
In a sharp attack on BJP at a series of rallies in Churu and Alwar in Rajasthan, Rahul alleged its "politics of anger and hate" was fanning communal tensions and damaging the country's secular fabric. "I was seeing my face in their grief. That is why I am against their (BJP's) politics....What do they do. They will put Muzaffarnagar on fire, Gujarat on fire, UP on fire and Kashmir on fire and then you and we will have to douse that. This damages the country," he had said.