On “Sovereign” Karnataka Row, Poll Body Notice To Congress Chief

The Election Commission has asked Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge to clarify a tweet attributing a remark on sovereignty to his predecessor Sonia Gandhi during an address in Karnataka. The poll body’s orders came following BJP complaints that any remark on sovereignty for a state amounts to a suggestion of secession.

“The Congress will not allow anyone to pose a threat to Karnataka’s reputation, sovereignty or integrity,” read a tweet by the Congress quoting Mrs Gandhi, posted on May 6.

The tweet triggered a sharp attack from the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in his final rally before the May 10 Karnataka elections, accused the Congress of openly advocating to “separate” Karnataka from India. The “tukde-tukde gang” had reached the Congress’s top level, he had alleged, accusing the Gandhis of “working against India’s interests”.

The BJP filed a complaint with the Election Commission, demanding action against Congress and Mrs Gandhi.

“Karnataka is a very important member state in the Union of India and any call to protect the sovereignty of a member State of the Union of India amounts to a call for secession and is fraught with perilous & pernicious consequences,” the BJP said in its letter to the Election Commission.

In its communication to the Congress, the poll body quoted from the BJP allegations, including the one where it said the Congress tweet is “violative of the mandatory oath undertaken by the political parties under section 29A (5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951”.

“In view of the above, you are requested to clarify and take rectification measures in respect of the social media post which has been put up on the INC Twitter handle and attributed to Chairperson CPP,” the Election Commission said.

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