Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde on Monday, 22 April, made controversial remarks against Congress President Rahul Gandhi, saying those questioning the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army would have been convinced of the operation had “we attached a bomb to Rahul (Gandhi)” and “sent him to another country”.

Munde’s remarks come even as the Election Commission of India has cautioned political parties against using the Indian Army for electoral gains in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

She was addressing a rally in Maharahstra’s Jalna Lok Sabha constituency.

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This is not the only instance of a political leader citing armed forces in their campaign speech. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invoked armed forces and defence personnel as part of his election campaign at several instances, including during his speeches in Rajathan’s Barmer and Gujarat’s Patan.

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Earlier during the day, the Congress had moved the Election Commission alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “brazenly” violated the poll code by invoking armed forces repeatedly in his poll campaign and demanded that a campaign ban be imposed on him for some time, news agency PTI reported.

A party delegation comprising senior leaders Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh and Abhishek Manu Singhvi made several representations to the Election Commission (EC), including against Modi, citing at least 10 examples of the Prime Minister allegedly invoking armed forces and defence personnel for seeking votes.

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Singhvi alleged that despite the EC issuing so many directives and asking all parties to exercise utmost caution, Prime Minister Modi has repeatedly invoked armed forces and defence personnel as part of his election campaign, directly violating the Commission’s notifications.

He cited the examples of Modi’s recent speeches in Rajathan’s Barmer and Gujarat’s Patan.

“Pakistan used to give nuclear threats. What do we have? Have we kept it for ‘Diwali’? (Warna aay din nuclear button hai, ye kehte the. Hamare paas kya hai? Ye Diwali ke liye rakha hai kya),” the prime minister had said in Barmer.

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In Patan, he had stated that after Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was held by Pakistan, a senior American official on the second day said that “Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack and the situation will deteriorate”.

“Pakistan announced return of the pilot or else it was going to be a ‘qatl ki raat’,” the prime minister had said.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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