EC notice to Mumbai BJP chief for alleged communal remark

MUMBAI: Mumbai BJP chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha has been issued a show-cause notice by the Election Commission (EC) on Thursday for his alleged communal remark during campaigning.

According to the Indian Express, Lodha was at an election rally held in Mumbadevi constituency which has a sizeable Muslim population. 

Communalising Mumbadevi

Campaigning Shiv Sena candidate Pandurang Sakpal, Lodha reminded the audience in the BJP bastion of Mumbadevi about the 1992 riots and blasts where he allegedly said that the “bombs used were manufactured in the lanes within 5 km.”

He indicted for the 1992-1993 riots by the Justice B N Srikrishna commission of inquiry.

Though he made no mention of the “lanes”, he was likely referring to the Dongri and Nagpada areas, where mostly Muslims live.

Here’s What Lodha Said

Aap yeh bhi yaad rakhiye ki 1992 ke dangon ke baad… is Mumbai ke andar kitne bomb blast hue, kitni goliyaan chali, kitne bomb ke dhamake hue, yeh saara udyogsthan kahan par hai? Yeh saara udyogsthan yahan ke aapke 5 km ki galiyon ke andar hai. Aur unke voton ke… unka saath lekar, jo vyakti chunke aayega, woh aapke aanewale samay mein kya dhyan rakhega? (You also please remember after the 1992 riots how many blasts took place in Mumbai, how many bullets were fired, where were all their manufacturing centres? All their manufacturing centres were in lanes within 5 km from here. The person who will be elected with votes from those lanes, how will he take care of you in the times to come?).’

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Targeting Congress Candidate

Purportedly targetting Congress candidate Amin Patel, Lodha, fielded Lodha from Malabar Hill said the current MLA looked at the “interests of one particular community”.  

Taking suo motu cognizance, Mumbadevi returning officer Vishwas Gujar sought an explanation on Lodha’s speech.

Gujar told the Indian Express that the EC team present at the meeting that took place between 5 pm to 10 pm and had recorded the speech. A decision on future course of action will be taken within 48 hours, the officer said.

MLA Amin Patel Responds

The two-term MLA Amin Patel reacted to Lodha’s statements, saying that that he would sue the BJP Mumbai chief, also a prime real estate developer for defamation.

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 “[But] before that, voters in the locality will avenge the crassly communal and humiliating statement,” he said. Patel added that the statement “shows the frustration of BJP and its city chief”, who has “targeted an area which has been peaceful”.

Elections in Maharashtra will be held on October 21. Counting of votes will be held on October 24. 

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