Maharashtra: Shiv Sena UBT Leader Uddhav Thackeray Accuses EC Of Double Standards Over BJP Leaders' Poll SpeechesNovember 18,2023
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday accused the Election Commission of India (ECI) of adopting double standards and sought to know its stand on BJP leaders' poll speeches, while particularly highlighting one made by Union Home MInister Amit Shah.
Addressing a press conference at his Bandra residence Matoshree, Thackeray said, "Prime Minister Modi had appealed to voters of Karnataka to vote in the name of Hanuman, while Home Minister Amit Shah told voters that travel to Ayodhya will be free if BJP is voted in power. For similar statements, voting rights of Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray and several other party MLAs were suspended by the ECI."
"Have they changed those provisions now?" he asked.
“Has the Election Commission changed rules and the Bharatiya Janata Party knows about it and we don’t? The Election Commission should clarify whether what happened in 1987 was as per the rules or what is happening today is as per the rules. Balasaheb’s use of these words was termed as corrupt practices by the EC,” the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
“We feel the model code of conduct has been relaxed (this time around). If that is the case, we should know about it,” he added.
In 1987, Balasaheb Thackeray was banned from exercising his voting right for six years for using words like “garv se kaho hum Hindu hai” and “mandir wahi banayenge.
Referring to the cricketing fever around, Thackeray further added, “Giving the BJP a free hit and dismissing us as a hit wicket does not amount to holding free and fair elections.”
The Shiv Sena (UBT) also wrote a letter to the commission accusing it of double standards.
“The double standards applied by the Election Commission are intriguing, yet understandable, given the fact that the commission is publicly perceived to be in alignment with whatever the BJP does during elections and even otherwise,” the letter sent to the ECI by Shiv Sena secretary Anil Desai read.
Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant, while reacting to Thackeray's criticism of the union Home Minister Amit Shah's speech, asked,"Why Thackeray didn't speak anything about Nitish Kumar's derogatory statements about women in the Bihar assembly?"
"Nitish Kumar's statement was much more condemnable. But, none of the INDIA parties spoke about it. Uddhav Thackeray should have condemned him. But, he didn't," Samant said.
Maharashtra BJP Chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule too condemned Thackeray's statement saying that he too has developed allergy towards Ram like the Congress.
After Congress, now Uddhav Thackeray too has developed an allergy towards Ram. Congress had sought proof of the existence of Ram while Thackeray now suffers even by mere mention of Ram and the Ram Bhaktas," Bawankule said in his post on microblogging site X.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, however, supported Thackeray and accused the BJP of exploiting people's religious sentiments for politics.
"They are offering a free visit to Ram Temple in Ayodhya. This shows how low the politics has stooped. One doesn't need to spend any money to visit a temple. But, here are politicians who are offering free visits to people," he said while speaking to the media at Kapsewadi in Solapur on Thursday.
In a rare gesture the MNS Chief Raj Thackeray also criticized the BJP's offer over Amit Shah's statement. "The party appears to have opened a new tours & travel branch," Thackeray quipped while interacting with the media at Thane.