BJP's Shailesh Mehta Sotta Issued Notice For 'Communally Provocative' Speech In Gujarat

| December 8 , 2017 , 12:24 IST

The BJP candidate from Dabhoi Assembly seat Shailesh Mehta Sotta has been served a notice from the State Election Commission for making a 'communally provocative' campaign speech, after the speech he made during a rally on Thursday.

Addressing a rally in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district which goes for polls on December 14, Sotta made a controversial remark towards Muslims, saying that the population of "topi and dadhiwalas (people who wear caps and beards)" should be "reduced" and that he would not contribute a single penny towards madrassas or masjids.

"If any 'topi, daadhiwala' (anybody wearing a cap and sporting beard) is sitting here (in the crowd), then pardon me, but there is a need to reduce their population," said Sotta.

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"(They say) don't talk about the community in which you are born (Hindu), and if you want to talk about that (the community), then don't contest election. But I will fight election for the religion in which I am born," Sotta purportedly said.

"Many leaders asked me not to say this, as it may go against me, but if 90 per cent of people are supporting me, then why shall I stop speaking about the 10 per cent people?" Sotta added.

"There was a meeting of a peace committee in which a 'tadipaar' (externed criminal) said that he is scared of the BJP candidate (Sotta). There is nothing wrong in this," he said.

"I came here to scare people. I am here not to get frightened, but to make others frightened. And if anti-social elements remain scared, then it is required for this place," said the BJP candidate.

Sotta warned that they (Muslims) will have to stop 'sporadic clashes' or communal incidents, else they will get 'eent ka jawab pathhar se (tit for tat response).

A councillor from Vadodara, Sotta is contesting the Assembly polls for the first time and will be pitted against senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel.

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The video of Sotta's speech, which he gave in Gujarati, soon went viral, after which Ahmedabad-based social worker Nishant Varma filed a complaint with the State Election Commission against Sotta for 'violating the poll code' and his comments agaisnt the Muslim community.

"He (Sotta) is clearly heard saying that Muslim population must be reduced in the area, and that Muslims will face 'eent ka jawab pathhar se'. He is saying all this to appease 90 per cent (Hindu) voters and not the rest 10 per cent," Varma said in his complaint.

"He (Sotta) is referring to Muslims as 'topi and daadhiwala' which is completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the model code of conduct as well as various provisions of the CrPC and IPC," he said.

In defence, Sotta said that he was referring to 'anti-social' elements and not a specific community.

“I was referring to anti-social elements who are running their activities by threatening the people in that area (Dabhoi), because some of these anti-social elements and criminals, who have been detained by the police, commented that they face a threat because of me. I had to answer them. And I stand by what I say, because I am a threat to anti-social elements so that the innocent people can live happily,” said Sotta to the Indian Express.