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EC notice based on ‘false media reports’
Modi: I was misquoted
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
Denying the charges made in the Election Commission’s notice against him, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today questioned the neutrality of the poll panel in not taking any action against Congress president Sonia Gandhi for calling him “maut ka saudagar”.

In his preliminary reply to the Election Commission, Modi maintained that the media had quoted his speech out of context allegedly justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin in a fake encounter.

“…My speech was entirely against terrorism. I criticised the Congress president for calling me ‘Maut ka saudagar’… I have made a reference to Sohrabuddin’s case and mentioned the allegations against me. I have accused the Congress of suggesting that I have engineered a fake encounter… At no point of time I have neither justified the specific encounter of Sohrabuddin, nor have I used the specific inculpate sentences used in a newspaper report,” he said.

“It is clear that my comment is a part of my speech, where on several occasions I have put questions to the audience which the audience has answered. It is my political response to (Sonia) Gandhi’s allegation that I am ‘maut ka soudagar’. I have replied back alleging that the Congress is helping those who have spread terrorism in the country,” he said.

Singling out a report in a prominent English daily, which had reported him having said “Well that is what I did. And I did what was necessary”, in the context of Sohrabuddin case, which had created the whole confusion, Modi said. “The CD (of his speech) clearly indicates that this sentence was an invention of author and is not of the orator.”

He strongly denied that “none of the statements” as reported by the media were contained in his speech as recorded in the CD, a copy of which was received by him on December 7, he said adding that the notice to him was issued only on the basis of “unverified and false media reports”.

Apparently questioning the neutrality of the Election Commission, Modi in his eight-point reply, said the poll panel has not taken any action against Sonia Gandhi, who had on December 1 referred to him as ‘maut ka saudagar’ and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, referring Gujarat as a state which has unleashed “Hindu terrorism”.

“When statements are made by political opponents, others are entitled to reply to them,” he said adding “I wish to categorically state that I regard the Election Commission as a Constitutional authority under an obligation to ensure free and fair elections which will also defend my right of free speech against those who have started hate campaign against me.”

Pointing that despite newspapers having extensively reported the statements of Congress leaders and BJP’s Gujarat unit filing separate complaints in this regard, Modi said “No action has been taken against those responsible for these statements by the commission.”

“Surely it cannot be policy of the commission first to ignore the violation of the code of conduct in her (Sonia’s) statement and then censor my political response to that statement,” he said adding “I am sure the commission would at least now proceed to take action on those reports.”

The commission had issued notice to Modi on December 6 after NGO activist Teesta Setalvad, who had been all along been taking up Gujarat riot issues, filed a complaint seeking action against Modi for liking Sohrabuddin’s name to terrorism.

Next, EC targets Sonia

New Delhi: The Election Commission had sought details of Sonia Gandhi’s speech on her “merchant of death” remarks in Gujarat. Meanwhile, a high-level team led by N. Gopalaswamy, CEC, will be heading for Gujarat tomorrow to study the ground realities in the state following charges and counter charges that the political parties “are playing on communal passions”. — Agencies

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