The Election Commission on Saturday issued a showcause notice to Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his controversial remarks in Bihar asking the Muslims to vote en bloc to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Stating that prima facie Sidhu violated the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha polls and also a Supreme Court direction barring use of religious references for political propaganda, the poll body has given 24 hours to the Congress leader to respond to the notice.
While addressing a rally in Bihar's Purnia, Navjot Singh Sidhu had urged the '64 per cent Muslim population' in the region to vote to remove the government-led by PM Modi.
"Muslim brother, people like Owaisi want to win by dividing the Muslim vote here. 64% is your (Muslim) population is in majority here and if you will get together and cast your votes, then Modi will be finished," said Sidhu in a public rally in Purnia on Tuesday.
Later, justifying his polarising speech, the Punjab minister told media that he was not trying to divide votes, but was only urging the Muslim voters to oust PM Modi.
"Was not trying to divide anyone. Was only saying that Muslims need to unite against PM Modi who doesn't have their best interests at heart. I have not received any notice from Election Commission," Sidhu said.
Following his controversial remarks, an FIR was lodged against the Punjab Congress leader by the district authorities of Katihar.
"An FIR has been lodged against Sidhu under a section Indian Penal Code and section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act," Bihar chief electoral officer H R Srinivasa told.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh also distanced himself from party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu's Muslim vote appeal in order to oust the Modi government. In an interaction with the press, Captain Amarinder Singh clarified stating that 'India is one country with many religions'.
"See now this issue has reached the Election Commission, let us see what the decison. The fact is that we are one country and there are plenty of religions, castes and all of us are Indians, this is the attitude of Congress party," he had said.