The Congress has written to the Election Commission seeking action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly violating the Model Code with his comments on former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi "ending his life as bhrashtachari (corrupt) number one".
"The statement by Prime Minister is not only the violation of Model Code of Conduct but also an insult of Bharat Ratna awardee martyr. Hence, we appeal the EC to take action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by barring him from speaking at public rallies," the Uttar Pradesh Congress said in a letter to the Election Commission on Sunday.
The Election Commission has cleared PM Modi of any poll code violation allegations six times, with the latest clean chit given on Saturday over a speech delivered in Gujarat, where he claimed that his government had kept Pakistan on its toes to ensure the safe return of captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
A high-ranking source in the Election Commission told NDTV that on five occasions, one of the three election commissioners had dissented with the majority view to let PM Modi and Amit Shah off the hook for their comments, which the Congress alleged were violations of the Model Code of Conduct.
A bitter battle between the Congress and the BJP is raging over the Prime Minister's comments on Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by terrorists in 1991, with the Congress pointing out that the remarks were aimed at tarnishing the image of the former PM in the Bofors case.
"Your father was termed 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his life ended as bhrashtachari number 1 (corrupt number 1)," PM Modi had said at a rally in Uttar Pradesh.
The reference was to corruption allegations in the purchase of Bofors artillery in the 1980s against the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi had got a clean chit from the court in the Bofors case. The Delhi High Court said there was no evidence that he accepted bribes and eventually dismissed all charges against the accused persons in the politically sensitive case.
Some Union Ministers including Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar have come out in support of PM Modi over his "bhrashtachari number 1" comments.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, son of the assassinated former prime minister, tweeted on Sunday, "Modi Ji, The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won't protect you. All my love and a huge hug. Rahul," read the tweet from the Congress chief, who made headlines last year by hugging the Prime Minister on the floor of parliament."
His sister Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, who is leading the Congress battle formation in eastern Uttar Pradesh, also condemned PM Modi for his comments.