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BJP Seeks Election Commission’s Action Against Rahul Gandhi  For ‘Panauti’ Remark

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NEW DELHI, Nov 22: The BJP on Wednesday demanded action by the Election Commission against Rahul Gandhi for his ‘panauti’ and ‘pickpocket’ jibes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and recalled Indira Gandhi’s “insult” of the Indian hockey team in the 1982 Asian Games final while praising its leader’s encouragement to cricket players after their World Cup final loss.

A party delegation, which included its general secretary Radha Mohan Das Agarwal and another functionary Om Pathak, also sought the poll watchdog’s action against Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, accusing him of falsely claiming that Modi’s caste was included in Gujarat’s OBC list when he was the state chief minister.

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The Ghanchi caste, a community traditionally employed in oil pressing, was included in the OBC list in 1999 while Modi became chief minister in 2001, Pathak said.

“The remarks of Kharge and Gandhi, who are indulging in spreading a web of lies and are habitual offenders, call for initiating criminal proceedings against these offenders and strict action as they have no respect for moral values in their conduct and even for the electoral laws as well as the Model Code of Conduct guidelines,” the party said in its memorandum to the EC.

After visiting the EC, Agarwal launched a stinging attack on Gandhi and described him as a “senseless, uneducated and valueless” person of “ghatia” (inferior) mindset for making insulting remarks against a “globally respected” leader out of “jealousy”.

Gandhi, in a poll speech in Rajasthan, had used the ‘panauti’ barb against Modi as he had attended the World Cup cricket final which India lost to Australia after 10 consecutive wins in the tournament.

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A Hindi slang, panauti loosely refers to someone who brings bad luck.

The BJP also referred to the former Congress president’s ‘pickpocket’ dig at Modi during a poll speech in Madhya Pradesh on November 22 in which he alleged the prime minister diverts people’s attention while industrialist Gautam Adani picks people’s pockets. This is how pickpockets operate, he had alleged.

He made “wild allegations and spoke in a derisive and obnoxious manner” about Modi, the ruling party told the EC.

“Comparing a Prime Minister to a ‘Jaibkatra’ (pickpocket) and ‘Pannauti’ is most unbecoming of any senior leader and is a symptom of plummeting levels of political discourse. Calling any person for that instance a ‘Jaibkatra’ not only amounts to vicious abuse and personal attack but also a character assassination,” it said.

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The BJP leader said the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Home Minister Buta Singh had gone to watch the 1982 Asiad hockey final in the national capital which India lost to Pakistan 7-1. They had left the match midway after India began trailing, he alleged.

It was an insult to the team and Indira Gandhi’s conduct broke the players’ morale, he claimed, adding that it was also a reason behind the public humiliation of Indian goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi.

Negi was forced to retire and was rehabilitated as a goalkeeping coach in 1998 when the BJP was in power at the Centre and India won the Asian Games gold, Agarwal said.

Negi later went on to become the goalkeeping coach of the Indian women’s hockey team which won the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold.

The BJP leader recalled the superhit Hindi movie Chak De India and said nobody used an insulting remark like ‘panauti’ for Indira Gandhi.

Sports should not be used for politics as Modi met every cricket player to boost their morale and praise their overall performance, he added.

Modi is respected by global leaders while his policies have helped the poor, women and farmers, he said. “It is shameful that a senseless and immature person like Rahul Gandhi calls him a panauti,” he added.

The BJP in its submission to the EC said, “We request the Election Commission to intervene urgently by taking appropriate legal action against Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi for their continued fraudulent, baseless and abusive practice and to pass a prohibitory order against them,” the BJP delegation said in its communication to the EC.

Otherwise, it will spoil the electoral environment, where “abusing, usage of objectionable and offensive language to defame respectable individuals and spreading false news will become inevitable”, it added.

Agarwal said Congress leaders were “habitual offenders” and urged the EC to teach them a lesson and stop confining itself to merely sending notices. (PTI)

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