DMK petitions ECI over presence of school children in Modi roadshow, Nirmala Sitharaman’s ‘hate speech’

Coimbatore District Collector said the administration is inquiring into the incident of the use of school children during Modi's roadshow.


Published Mar 20, 2024 | 10:51 AMUpdatedMar 20, 2024 | 10:51 AM

PM Modi in Tamil Nadu

The ruling DMK on Tuesday, 19 March, demanded that the Election Commission probe the use of school children by the BJP for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Coimbatore and also sought action against Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for delivering “hate speech”.

Separately, Coimbatore District Collector Kranthi Kumar Pati said the administration is inquiring into the incident of the use of school children during Modi’s roadshow.

Reports have been sought from the Chief Education Officer and Joint Commissioner of the Labour department as well, he said in a tweet on social media platform X, and added that “suitable action will be taken based on the findings of the inquiry”.

Also Read: PM Modi pays tributes to victims of 1998 bomb blast in communally sensitive Coimbatore

DMK petition to CEO

In a petition submitted to Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo in Chennai, DMK Organisation Secretary RS Bharathi said appropriate action should be taken against the BJP for using children for a political campaign.

Steps should be taken to protect children from child labour and also prevent their participation in election-related work and campaigns, he said.

Bharathi said that children aged 12 to 15 were engaged in campaign activities and were made to wear clothes featuring BJP insignia. Further, they were made to recite poems and sing songs in a music display organised by the BJP during the roadshow on 18 March, he wrote in the petition.

“The said act by the BJP is directly against the notification of the ECI on 5 February 2024, which barred political parties from using children in any capacity for election campaigns, rallies, etc, and also a direct violation of the Child Labour and Prohibition Act,” he said in the petition, substantiating it with a video clip of the incident.

Petition against Nirmala Sitharaman

In a separate petition, he sought action against Nirmala Sitharaman allegedly for violating the Model Code of Conduct and delivering “hate speech” while speaking on the anniversary of Chanakyaa TV channel in Chennai on 16 March, hours after the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for the general election.

Sitharaman had “made hate and defamatory speech to diminish the reputation of the DMK and its leader, with an ill motive” to acquire personal gain illegally and with the hope of winning elections by false propaganda, thus violating the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, Bharathi contended.

“Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman evoked the feelings of a particular religion by appealing to the Hindus by falsely claiming that the DMK is destroying temples, swindling temples and destroying the religion,” he said.

This not only violates the Model Code of Conduct but also attracts the provisions of section 123 (3) and section 125 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, he explained.

“Her speech was contrary to the truth. The DMK government never worked against the interests of the temples. In fact, it recovered lands belonging to temples worth about thousands of crores of rupees from illegal encroachment, besides renovated temples and performed the Kumbhabhishekam for over 1,000 temples in two years,” Bharathi stated in the petition.

“The DMK is secular and no discrimination is done against any religion… The state government and the people of Tamil Nadu respect and uphold secularism among other great virtues,” he added in the petition.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)