- "Your statement will not create fear in my heart," Mr Owaisi said
- Mr Thakur had prompted a Delhi crowd to chant the controversial slogan
- Mr Thakur was served a notice by Election Commission over the slogan
Hyderabad politician Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday threw an open challenge to Union Minister Anurag Thakur over the controversial "Goli Maaro" (shoot them) slogan that he prompted the crowd to chant at an election rally in Delhi this week.
"I challenge you Anurag Thakur, to pick a place in India where you will shoot me and I am ready to come there. Your statements will not create fear in my heart because our mothers and sisters have come out in large numbers on the roads. They have decided to save the country," the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader said, according to news agency ANI.
Mr Thakur, the junior finance minister, was served a show-cause notice by the Election Commission on Wednesday, seeking his response for urging a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say "Goli Maaro" - or shoot down traitors - in a widely-shared video. The poll body said that it suggests the remarks had the "potential of disturbing communal harmony and aggravating the existing differences between social and religious communities".
The Election Commission said the BJP MP had violated the election code and electoral law and asked him to reply by noon on Thursday, "failing which the commission shall take a decision without any reference to you".
Campaigning for the BJP candidate in Rithala in North West Delhi for the February 8 Delhi election, Anurag Thakur was seen prompting "desh ke gaddaron ko...", to which the crowd responds "...goli maaro sa***n ko"; the entire chant translates to "shoot down the traitors who betray the country". The video was taken at a rally on Monday.
Mr Thakur never actually says the controversial part of the slogan, but clearly eggs on the crowd and claps his hands as he gets the response he wants.
Asked who he believed were the "traitors" who need to be shot down, a defiant Mr Thakur told reporters: "First you should watch the entire video... Then you should see the mood of the people of Delhi."
The "Goli Maaro..." slogan, that has been used by BJP supporters as their latest rallying cry against so-called "anti-national elements", was also heard during the attack on students and staff at Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) earlier this month, in which 34 were injured.