Senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar on Wednesday disapproved of Navjot Singh Sidhu's appeal to Muslims to defeat BJP and said he would have stopped the Punjab minister from doing so had he been present at the rally held in his Lok Sabha constituency of Katihar. "I have always held the view that votes must never be sought in the name of religion and caste. This has also been the policy of the Congress party. I do not approve of what Sidhu has uttered. I would request the party leadership to take note for suitable action," Anwar said in a statement.
Sidhu, against whom an FIR has been lodged at Katihar in Bihar for violating the model code of conduct, made the controversial statement at a rally in Barsoi police station area of the district on Monday. The matter came to light when video footage of his utterances was beamed on TV news channels on Tuesday wherein he could be heard asking Muslims, who have a sizeable presence in Katihar, to be wary of Asaduddin Owaisis AIMIM alleging that it was being propped up by the BJP.
Sidhu also urged the Muslim voters to unite in favour of the Congress candidate Tariq Anwar and drawing an analogy from cricket, remarked Modi will go for a six if you do so. I was not present at the Barsoi rally. Had I been there, I would have immediately stood up and expressed my disapproval of the way he was canvassing for me, Anwar clarified in his statement.
The episode in Bihar came close on the heels of the Election Commission taking punitive action against leaders like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party stalwart Azam Khan for violating the code of conduct in their speeches at election rallies..
(With inputs from agencies.)