The Election Commission has issued notices to Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa and Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil for allegedly making provocative speeches in poll-bound Karnataka in violation of the election code of conduct. The ministers have time till 5 pm today to file their replies.
Mr Eshwarappa, who is a BJP leader, had reportedly said in a speech in Shimoga on April 9 that "young Muslim men are getting involved with Hindu women as part of a Love Jihad." After a local Congress leader, Syed Wahid, complained against him, the registered a case against the senior minister under laws that deal with promoting enmity between different groups and religions.
RR Patil of the Nationalist Congress Party was booked on April 11 for a speech he made at a private function in Belgaum. He had reportedly said that a 2005 incident in Belgaum, when the face of a Marathi-speaking Mayor Vijay More was blackened by activists, was, "not an insult to one man but to 12 crore Marathis".
Mr Patil also said, "We (Marathis) are generally patient people. We don't get up every morning and draw our swords. But when our self-respect is hurt, our swords don't get sheathed unless we get our revenge."
Karnataka and Maharashtra have a longstanding dispute on territorial rights over about 800 villages on the border.
Mr Patil has also been charged with promoting enmity between different groups and religions. The Election Commission had asked for a report and a recording of the speech.
Karnataka will vote on May 5 and the BJP is fighting with its back to the wall to retain the only southern state it rules. The Congress, which has not been in power in the state since 2006, sees a very good chance to displace the ruling party, which is battling deep internal fissures. The NCP is the Congress' partner both in Maharashtra and at the Centre.