Acting upon the Bharatiya Janata Party's complaint, the Election Commission sent a notice to senior Congress leader CP Joshi for his casteist remarks during a poll meeting in Rajasthan. Joshi is required to submit a reply by 25 November.
Joshi had reportedly said Thursday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP MP Uma Bharti and Hindu activist Sadhvi Ritambhara are from "lower castes" and know nothing of Hinduism. He had also said it is the Brahmins who are learned and know of Hinduism.
Though Joshi on Friday apologised for his comments, the BJP rejected the apology, saying the remarks "insulted" Indian culture and the Hindu religion, and dared Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to expel him from the party.
"The comments made by the Congress leader (Joshi) based on caste, section and religion in an election rally are violation of the model code of conduct. So, a complaint has been lodged with the Election Commission," BJP Rajasthan election cell convenor, Nahar Singh Maheshwari, said in a statement.
Polls in Rajasthan are scheduled on 7 December.
"There is fear of social unrest and hatred in society due to Joshi's comments, so the Election Commission should take strong action (against him) for making such a statement," he said.
Joshi apologised after Gandhi disapproved his comments and asked him to express regret.
The Congress chief also asked other party leaders to refrain from making such statements which hurt any segment of society.
In a tweet in Hindi, Joshi said, "Respecting the principles of the Congress party and the sentiments of party workers, I feel sorry if my statement has hurt the feelings of any section of society."
Thursday night, he had posted his speech on Twitter and Facebook, saying, "I strongly condemn the fabricated use of my statement by BJP. To put all the speculation to rest, here is enclosed the clipping of the speech."
Rahul disapproved the Congress leader's comments in a tweet, saying Joshi's remarks do not reflect, and are contrary, to the ideals of the Congress party, and urged party leaders to refrain from making such statements.
"While respecting the Congress party's principles and the sentiments of party workers, I am sure Joshiji will realise his mistake. He should express regret over his remarks," the Congress chief said on Twitter.
Stressing that Joshi had "insulted the Indian culture as well as the Hindu religion", Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi accused the Congress of "dividing every religion for power".
"The statement of Congress leader (Joshi) is baseless, wrong and condemnable. It reflects that the Congress doesn't know the history of Indian culture and Hindu religion," Trivedi said at a press conference in Jaipur.
BJP leader and spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "What CP Joshi has done is target the prime minister based on his caste. It is not acceptable. If Rahul has the guts, then remove CP Joshi now.... CP Joshi insulted Hindus while pretending to be one."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 24, 2018 14:50:52 IST