Taking strong note of Modi's remarks, which he claimed were used figuratively and as colloquial metaphors, the Commission said it was not satisfied with his explanation in reply to its notice for Model Code violation.

The Commission said references to political adversaries with expressions such as 'khooni panja' and 'zalim haath' (ruthless hand) "cannot but be construed as injurious to the cause of decorous political discourse."

"Having regard to the totality of facts and circumstances of the case and submissions and contentions made by you in your reply under reference, the Commission expresses its disapprobation in the matter, and expects that you will stand by your above referred commitment and to be more careful in your public discourse in future," the EC order said.

The Congress, which has hand as its symbol, lodged a complaint with the EC over Modi's remarks. The three-page order to Modi said the Commission noted his consciousness of its concern about the language of public discourse in cases of personal attacks on leaders and the need to adhere to stricter standards, but it "does not accept your stand that the same standards cannot be enforced for remarks against political parties".

"The Commission considers that while criticizing the policies, programmes and past records of political parties also, the expressions and utterances, even when used colloquially, have to be couched in such terms that the same conform to dignity, decorum and public morality," it said.

"The tone, tenor and content of your impugned speech and the use of expressions 'khooni panja' and 'zalim haath' when read in the context of your whole speech, leave no scope for doubt that the same refer to the complainant party and its reserved symbol and are violative of the above mentioned avowed object underlying the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct," the order said.

The Commission said it has noted the assurance given by Modi that as a responsible political leader he stands committed to all regulations/directions and Model Code of Conduct framed by the Election Commission and hoped he will keep his word in future.

While duly recognizing the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution, the Commission said such a right "is not absolute" and is to be exercised in such a manner that "it does not transcend, inter alia, the boundaries of decency and morality or disturb public order or cause defamation or give incitement to an offence as ordained in clause (2) of that Article 19 and that the Model Code aims and seeks to achieve that very objective.”

Modi, in his nine-page reply to the Commission's notice for poll code violation, had denied having violated the Model Code of Conduct over his "khooni panja" remark. Modi had said that he has only exercised his right of free speech by criticizing the policies and work of Congress and thus has not violated the Model Code.

"I am of the clear opinion that I have not violated the said provision," he said. Modi, in his reply, had said, even though he has himself been subjected to much criticism, including use of abuses against him, he has maintained diginity of political discourse and has not made personal attacks against his opponents.

He said he has not made any wild allegation against the Congress and its leaders and whatever said by him is not unverified and is very much in public domain. He said criticism of an opponent is inevitable in an election and the 'khooni panja' and 'zalim haath' remarks are popular Hindi expressions used only figuratively.

"It is used as a colloquial metaphor," Modi had said. The Election Commission had issued a notice to Modi on November 13 and asked Modi to reply to its notice by November 20. The Congress, led by AICC legal department secretary KC Mittal had complained to the Commission, which had got a copy of the video CD of Modi's speech of November 7 in Dongargarh Rajnandgaon of Chhattisgarh along with the remarks of the Returning Officer before the notice was served on the BJP prime ministerial candidate.

Modi while campaigning in Chhattisgarh had said, "When Atal Behari Vajpayee formed Chhattisgarh, whose hands did it first go into. Do you want such a "khooni panja" gain? Brothers and sisters, don't commit that mistake again. Even by mistake, don't ever let Chhattisgarh go into the hands of a 'Zalim Panja'."


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