The Election Commission on Saturday issued a showcause notice to Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his remarks wherein he asked Muslims to vote en bloc to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The poll panel said prima facie Sidhu violated the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha polls, and also a Supreme Court direction barring use of religious references for political propaganda. The Congress leader has been given 24 hours to respond to the notice.
An FIR was lodged against Sidhu on April 16 for violating model code of conduct by exhorting Muslim voters in a Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar to vote en bloc to defeat PM Modi.
Sidhu made the controversial remarks at a public meeting on Monday in Kathihar. He was canvassing for Congress candidate and former Union minister Tariq Anwar.
Excerpts of the speech telecast by news channels showed the cricketer-turned-politician urging Muslims to realise that they have a sizeable population in the area and to be wary of Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, that he dubbed as a party "propped up by the BJP".
Sidhu asked the Muslim electorate to "vote en bloc" for the Congress candidate. "Modi will be done for. He will go for a six," the Congress leader was seen telling the audience.
Earlier, a nine-member delegation of the BJP, led by its state unit vice president Devesh Kumar, had visited the CEO's office in Patna and submitted a memorandum with the request to take "suo motu cognizance and lodge an FIR" against Sidhu.
Sidhu, who has also featured in a number of television comedy shows, was with the BJP till 2016. He joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls in Punjab and was inducted into the state cabinet headed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.