Modi denies all charges in response to EC notice

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Ahmedabad, Dec 8: Denying all charges levelled by the Election Commission (EC) in a notice on December 6, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today told the poll panel that he was quoted ''out of context'' by the media and never said Sohrabuddin Sheikh got''what he deserved''.

''I deny all the charges entirely,'' Mr Modi told the panel in response to a notice issued to him on December 6.

However, he said whatever he stated on the issue at Mangrol (Surat district) was in response to Congress President Sonia Gandhi's remark, calling him ''merchant of death''.

Talking to mediapersons here, senior party leader Arun Jaitley said the Commission had issued a notice on an application of an NGO, which had submitted newspaper clippings.

Mr Modi's statement was a political response to Ms Gandhi's remark, Mr Jaitley said adding that the EC should also issue notices to Ms Gandhi and Mr Digvijay Singh.

Mr Jaitley said Mr Modi's reply was on the basis of CDs, provided by the Surat District collector to the EC.

In his reply, Mr Modi said while notice had been issued to him, no action was taken against the Congress President who had made the ''merchant of death'' remark on December 1 at a public rally.

Mr Modi told the Commission that he was entitled to speak on the opponent's question raised during a political rally.

Meanwhile, sources in Gandhinagar said the EC had sought a report from CEO Gujarat on Ms Gandhi's December 1 speech. The EC had slapped a notice on Mr Modi for his reported statement during an election meeting, justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter, and asked him to file his reply by 1100 hrs today. However, Mr Modi had sought time till 1700 hrs.

The Commission in its notice to Mr Modi, said it had acted on a complaint filed by social activist Teesta Seetalvad, who alleged that the Chief Minister's speech at Mangrol on December 4 ''amounted to an open invitation to violence and misuse of religion for political ends, and so was violative of the model code of conduct.'' The Commission, which had also taken note of media reports of the said speech, sought a report from Surat collector who had provided a CD of Mr Modi's speech.

The Commission, prima facie, found that making references to Sohrabuddin and linking his name to terrorism, made in the speech, amounts to indulging in activity which may aggravate existing differences, creating mutual hatred and causing tension between different communities.

The EC had observed that the speech was in violation of the provisions of clause (1) and (3) of Item I of the Model Code of Conduct and accordingly the notice was issued to him.

UNI

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