Stepping up its campaign against Narendra Modi, the Congress on Tuesday released video clips of alleged "hate speeches" of several Bharatiya Janata Party, Sangh Parivar and Shiv Sena leaders and demanded their arrest for "trading in the politics of poison" by committing the "sin" of "stoking communal fire".
Party spokesperson Randeep Surejewala also demanded an "apology" from Modi and action against his key aide Amit Shah and BJP leader Giriraj Singh, besides Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia and Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam.
Releasing a CD of the controversial speeches by these leaders, the Congress spokesperson said that Modi's "pseudo mask of development" was out and he and BJP were attempting to gain power at any cost.
"In their blind lust for power, Modi, BJP and the Sangh Parivar are carrying out a concerted campaign to divide the country on communal lines," he said, adding the provocative and communal speeches are part of a "design and conspiracy".
"It is a political agenda being implemented by Modi and Sangh Parivar to polarise the nation on communal lines and destabilise and disrupt the very core of the country," Surjewala said, adding that the BJP's prime ministerial candidate was on the same dais with Kadam and was seen "relishing" the Shiv Sena leader's speech and "applauding" him by clapping.
Kadam had alleged targeted Muslims.
The Congress attack came on a day when Modi disapproved of "petty" statements by those claiming to be BJP's well-wishers, saying they are deviating the campaign.
"I disapprove (of) any such irresponsible statements and appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so," Modi said in a series of tweets as controversial statements by VHP leader Pravin Togadia and Bihar BJP leader Giriraj Singh were denounced by rivals and allies of BJP.
Surjewala said that if Modi has even an iota of respect for the idea of India, he should apologise to the people of India.
"The spirit of India that lives within each one of the 125 crore Indians demands that Modi and BJP tender a public apology for this conspiratorial sin and establish their neutrality and credentials in front of the whole nation.
"Modi and his strategists stand completely exposed by this hate and venomous speeches....They are now using communal division and are openly trading in the politics of poison as a weapon of last resort to garner votes," he said in a written statement.
Surjewala said that this politics of spreading "divisive communalism" is not spontaneous or sudden but part of a "larger conspiracy" and the final nail in the coffin was "distribution of hate pamphlets by the Sangh Parivar".
"I request the Election Commission not only to register FIR against such lumpen elements but also arrest and put them behind the bars. Action should also be taken against Modi and BJP for latently and patently supporting this divisive agenda," the Congress spokesperson said.
Replying to queries, he, however, refused to specify whether he was demanding a ban on Modi's election campaigning, saying he leaves this to the wisdom of the EC, which is vested with powers to act against all persons, including Modi, to take appropriate action if communal tension is being fanned.
"By unleashing hate mongers like Shah, Togadia, Giriraj and Kadam, the mentality of Modi's strategists of complete dictatorship and subjugation of all human rights is glaringly apparent," Surjewala said.