BHOPAL: Giving the October 21 Jhabua assembly byelection an India vs Pakistan colour and dubbing the Congress candidate as Pakistan' representative has landed the leader of opposition and ex-minister Gopal Bhargava in the soup in Madhya Pradesh.
Finding his public utterances prima facie violative of poll code provisions, the returning officer for the October 21 byelection Dr Abhay Singh Kharari has lodged a case against the BJP leader under different sections of the Representation of Peoples Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case was registered under Sections 123(1)(2) and 125 of the Representation of People Act, besides Sections 153-B (1), 505 (2) and 188 of IPC at Jhabua Kotwali police station on Tuesday. Reacting to the development, Bhargava, a former MP minister, said he would challenge the lodging of FIR against him in the higher court.
On Monday, Bhargava had triggered a political controversy ahead of the byelection. "Right now the country's pride is at stake, so this isn't a normal poll contest between two parties, but instead a battle between India and Pakistan," he had said while addressing an election rally in support of the party candidate Bhanu Bhuria in Jhabua town ahead the candidate's nomination papers filing procession on Monday.
"You (electorate) have to make the choice as to who you'll vote for. On one hand, you've our candidate Bhanu bhai (Bhanu Bhuria) who represents India, while on the other hand is Kantilal Bhuria (Congress candidate) who represents Pakistan. Now you've to decide what message your vote will send, because if Bhanu bhai (BJP candidate) loses the bypoll it will send a message that the representative of a government which backs Pakistan emerged victorious and the representative of the party which backs India lost the battle," said Bhargava.
Taking objection to Bhargava's public statements, the ruling Congress had complained to the Election Commission. In the complaint to CEO MP in Bhopal, the Congress alleged that Bhargava through his speech describing the Congress candidate as a representative of Pakistan has tried to stir up the patriotic sentiments of people to influence the byelection.
"A case of model poll code violation should be registered against Bhargava," the Congress demanded.
The Congress has fielded former Union minister and tribal strongman Kantilal Bhuria for the Jhabua bypoll, while the BJP's nominee Bhanu Bhuria is contesting his first assembly poll on a BJP ticket.