8th December 2007
Narendra D. Modi
The Election Commission of India
Subject: Your Notice dated 6th December 2007 to Shri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister, Gujarat State.
I am in receipt of your notice dated 6th December 2007 wherein on the basis of the media reports and a complaint dated 5th December 2007 filed by Teesta Setalvad, I am alleged to have made an open exhortation to violence and misused of religion for political ends. The Election Commission has further stated that by linking the name of Sohrabuddin to terrorism in my speech amounts to indulging in activity which may aggravate existing differences, creating mutual hatred and causing tension between different communities. I deny this charge in its entirety.
1. The Commission has acted on the basis of a complaint which alleges that my stand is contrary to what the State of Gujarat has stated in its affidavit before the Supreme Court. The basis of the complaint appears to be a report dated 5th December 2007 of the Times of India by one Shri Prashant Dayal. The relevant extract in the Times of India reads as under:
Modi…….you tell what should be done to Sohrabuddin?
People at the rally: Kill him, kill him.
Modi: Well, that is what I did. And I did what was necessary.”
The last sentence of the report of the Times of India has generated controversy in the whole nation. Television Channels and News Papers have made comments to the effect that I have stated that ‘Sohrabuddin got what he deserved’, or that ‘it is a confessional statement by me’ or that ‘Modi has justified a murder’. All other news papers cuttings which the Commission has taken into account are dated 6th December 2007, which do not report my speech delivered on 4th December, 2007 but are comments inspired by false imputation in the Times of India. This last sentence is not reflected in the CD as having been used by me.
2. ‘The Statesman’ dated 6th December 2007 quoted me as having said –
“he (Sohrabuddin) has got what he deserved”: The Hindustan Times of 6th December quoted me as saying “Well then, that’s it.” I had on 6th December 2007, immediately after receiving Election Commission’s notice requested that I may be supplied copy of the CD of the speech and also various inputs which have influenced the issuance of the notice. I have since received the copy of CD on the evening of 7th December 2007 at 5.45 p.m. I find none of the above statements are contained in my speech as recorded in the CD. The .E.C. notice is issued on the basis of unverified and false media reports.
3 As I am also involved in a campaign I am sending this as a preliminary reply, which I am sure would satisfy the Election Commission with regard to the contents of my speech. Before I answer specifics raised in the notice and the complaint, I wish to state that India is governed by Rule of law and Constitution. I am entitled to my right of free speech. Free and fair election involves a debate on the political issues in the market place of politics. When statements are made by political opponents, others are entitled to reply to them. The tone and content of the statement must necessarily adhere to the Model Code of Conduct. I wish to categorically state that I regard the Election Commission as a constitutional authority under an obligation to ensure free and fair election which will also defend my right of free speech against those who have started hate campaign against me.
4. On 1st December 2007, AICC President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi visited Gujarat and referred to me by suggesting those who are ruling Gujarat are “liars, dishonest and merchants of fear and death (Maut-ke-Soudagar).” On 3rd December 2007, AICC General Secretary Mr. Digvijay Singh visited Gujarat and referred to it as a State which has unleashed “Hindu terrorism.” The newspapers reported these statements extensively. Separate complaints with regard to the violation of the Code of Conduct were sent to the Election Commission by the Gujarat Unit of BJP. No action has been taken against those responsible for these statements by the Election Commission. I am sure the Election Commission would at least now proceed to take action on those reports.
5. One of the critical issues in our country is the problem of terrorism. India has lost the lives almost 90,000 of innocent citizens and security personnel in the last 17 years to terror. In the last four years, 5,619 innocents have been killed by the terrorist. The Government of Gujarat has a strong policy against terrorism. I believe that UPA and Congress party is indulging in Vote Bank politics and have sent soft signals on terrorism. My party and I have repeatedly made these charges against the Congress Party. In Gujarat only one life has been lost in the last four years through terror. This is a result of our strong policy against terrorism. The Nation and the people of Gujarat are entitled to witness a fair debate on terrorism. If any of the view point is censored or not permitted it will be interference in the right of free speech. Our Constitution and the election commission’s obligation to conduct free and fair election will not extend to preventing me from expressing my strong views against terrorism..
6 My speech, therefore, has to be read entirely in this context. It was a political response to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi referring to me as those who rule the Gujarat as a ‘Mout-ke-saudagar’. Surely it cannot be policy of the Election commission first to ignore the violation of the Code of Conduct in her statement and then censor my political response to that statement. I have gone through my speech on the CD supplied. It is merely a response to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi calling me “Mout-ka-Saudagar”.
7. This part of my speech was entirely against terrorism. I criticized the Congress President for calling me a ‘Maut Ka Saudagar´. I responded that the “Maut Ka Saudagar” are all those who attacked parliament It is the Congress party which is delaying the execution of the guilty accused. I have made a reference to the Sohrabuddin’s case and mentioned the allegations against him. I have accused the Congress of suggesting that I have engineered a fake encounter. I said that I am open for any action on this count. At no point of time I have either justified the specific encounter of Sohrabuddin’s case, nor have I used the specific inculpatery sentences used in the Times of India Report. It is clear that my comment is a part of my speech where on several occasions I have put questions to the audience which the audience has answered. It is my political response to Smt. Gandhi’s allegation that I am Maut-ka-Sodagar. I have replied back alleging that the Congress party is helping those who have spread terrorism in the country. It is clear that Times of India’s article which began this controversy, invented my comment to the effect “Modi: Well that is what I did. And I did what was necessary”. The CD clearly indicates that this sentence was an invention of author and not the orator. The comments in the media that ‘Modi justified murder’ or that ‘he made confessional statement’ as being privy to murder or that Modi declared in the meeting that ‘Sohrabuddin got what he deserved’ do not find a mention in the CD. These are journalistic inventions intended to engineer a ‘Hate Modi’ campaign and not evidenced in the CD supplied by the Election Commission. My criticism in the media was concocted and engineered by this ‘Hate Modi’ Campaign. No where in my speech have I explicitly referred to the religion of any person. I have spoken against terrorism. It is not my speech but the complaint which assumes terrorism is linked to a religion.
8 Am I to be prevented from giving my point that terrorism will not be allowed on the soil of Gujarat or that Congress is soft on the terrors and thereby helping “Maut-ka-Sodagar” If Election Commission imposes any such regulation, it would offend our constitutional values and my right of free speech. At no stage I have controverted the affidavit filed by the Gujarat Government in the Supreme Court of India. I have already clarified my position that I do not support fake encounters. Encounters can occur but there should be no fake encounters. I have nowhere tried to prejudice any pending litigation. I am fully committed to the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct by the Election Commission and shall comply with it. I believe that the Election Commission should not be misled by motivated media reports which are based on falsehood.
I, therefore, request the Election Commission to withdraw this notice.