Action taken against Kerala BJP chief over communal remark

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: April 18, 2019

On Wednesday, April 17, the Election Commission informed the Kerala High Court that it had taken action against Kerala BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai, based on the recommendation of Kerala Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena, over Pillai’s alleged remark targeting the Muslim community, The New Indian Express reported.

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CPM leader VP Sivankutty filed a writ petition with the court, asking that the Election Commission be directed to take action against Pillai. Murali Purushothaman, counsel for the Election Commission, filed a submission, that the court considered; Sivankutty’s petition was disposed of, The New Indian Express said. Sivankutty also sought that a criminal case be filed against Pillai, for which the High Court sought the opinion of the Kerala police chief.

Kerala CEO Teeka Ram Meena had submitted a report to the Election Commission calling for action against Pillai, stating that Pillai’s speech was a prima facie violation of the Representation of the People Act, the Times of India reported. Meena noted that the speech breached Section 123A of the Act, which states that "the promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate" is considered as corrupt practice, the Times of India said, adding that both the Congress and the CPM had approached the Election Commission over the incident. 

Pillai made the remark in question on Sunday, April 14, while speaking at a campaign event for Sobha Surendran, the BJP’s candidate for the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency. Per Meena’s report, he said, "Our Rahul Gandhi, Yechury, Pinarayi and all are saying that, after getting there... the dead bodies... which caste, which religion... if they are Islam then there will be a few signs... if only you remove the dresses only then it can be found out... so after doing all that, we should come back is what they say," PTI reported. 

At a press conference on Sunday, Sivankutty said, ‘‘Mr. Pillai has made reprehensible remarks against the Muslim community with the hope that it would garner votes for the BJP. It is the kind of speech no political leader has ever made in Kerala. The speech is not just a violation of the model code of conduct, but also a criminal act under IPC Section 153A for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,’’ The Hindu reported. 

A video of Pillai’s remark can be seen here.