BENGALURU: Under attack for allegedly inciting voters in poll-bound Karnataka on communal lines, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said that he will resign as the Member of Parliament if he is proven guilty.
''I didn't hold any public meeting especially for Muslims, it was just a public meeting. I challenge, if anyone meeting the Election Commission officials has video or audio of mine saying 'vote in name of Islam', then I'll resign as Parliament member and the Leader of Opposition, '' the veteran Congress leader said while defending himself.
I didn't hold any public meeting especially for Muslims, it was just a public meeting. I challenge, if anyone meeting EC officials has video or audio of mine saying 'vote in name of Islam', then I'll resign as Parliament member & leader of opposition: GN Azad #KarnatakaElections pic.twitter.com/z0mWMhYyJ0
— ANI (@ANI) May 3, 2018
Azad had allegedly appealed to Muslim voters to vote for Congress in order to keep the BJP at bay while canvassing for a Congress candidate Allama Prabhu Patil from the Gulbarga constituency in the run-up to the Karnataka assembly elections 2018.
It is alleged that the veteran Congress leader told the voters that ''the BJP should not be allowed to come to power at any cost. Muslims should en masse cast their votes in favour of Congress candidates”.
Alleging bias and misuse of power by the Congress regime in Karnataka and its top leaders playing the communal card, a delegation of senior BJP leaders had met with officials of Election Commission on May 2.
The BJP delegation included Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nitin Gadkari, MA Naqvi, Dharmendra Pradhan and several state-level leaders.
While talking to media later, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “Huge irregularities have been prevailing in the poll-bound Karnataka and state election commission is watching like a mute spectator.”
Referring to Ghulam Nabi Azad's controversial statement, Gadkari alleged, “Congress is openly playing communal card in the election and his leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is saying voting to Congress would be the real service of Islam. Is this right? EC should take action against Ghulam Nabi Azad.”
“Moreover, religious processions are being barred by the state by the state government, which was being carried out from years there.” the BJP leader said.
Condemning "reprehensible campaigning" by the Congress party in reference to seeking votes directly from Muslims, the BJP delegation urged the poll panel to act decisively and firmly against such attempts of the Congress.
The saffron party delegation also demanded that the assembly constituencies of Belgaum North, Gokak, Yemakanmardi, Badami and Bableshwar in the poll-bound state, be declared "critical and Central Armed Police Forces and micro observers be deployed forthwith to ensure a level playing field for all parties".
In the run-up to the May 12 Karnataka assembly elections, the two main political parties – the ruling and Congress and the BJP – have attacked each other and the leaders from both sides have made personal attacks on their opponents.
While Rahul Gandhi has accused PM Modi of making false promises and hurting the national economy by introducing the GST and implementing demonetisation, PM Modi has alleged rampant corruption in the Congress-ruled Karnataka and ignoring farmers' woes.
(With Agency inputs)