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Modi stokes controversy again with video message on polling day

New Delhi, May 12 (PTI): Narendra Modi stoked a controversy yet again on a polling day by releasing a video message seeking votes for the Bharatiya Janata Party, leaving the Congress fuming.

The tech-savvy Chief Minister of Gujarat posted the video online and tweeted the YouTube link.

The Congress said the video was a violation of electoral law and demanded that the Election Commission take action against him.

As polling was under way in 41 constituencies in the last phase, including Varanasi where Modi is contesting, the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate spoke about the 'Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb' of the holy city and appealed to the voters there to reflect its spirit of unity and harmony through their votes.

Congress swiftly moved the Election Commission demanding immediate action against Modi saying “His address to voters in Varanasi seeking votes for himself is a clear violation of the provisions of the Representation of People Act and the Model Code of Conduct.”

This is not the only time Modi has sparked controversy on polling day in the nine-phase elections.

Modi released the party manifesto on April 7, when the first round of polling was held, leading to protests from other parties and the issue also came under the EC scanner.

When polling was being held on April 24 in 117 Lok Sabha constituencies in the sixth phase, Modi held a massive roadshow in Varanasi before filing his nomination papers. This was beamed live by many TV channels.

He again stoked controversy when he cast his vote in Gandhinagar during polling in the seventh phase on April 30. Modi flashed the party symbol lotus after emerging from the polling booth and held a press conference, following which two complaints were filed against him by Gujarat police on the direction of the EC for alleged violation of electoral law.

Before that, Modi chose April 9, when polling was being held in the second phase, for filing nominations in Vadodara.

Invoking “Maa Ganga” again in his video message on Monday, Modi said the aim should be to keep the rich tradition of the holy city alive.

“I appeal to people to cast their votes in the last phase of polls with the same zeal and enthusiasm they have shown so far. My brothers and sisters in Kashi, the honour of Kashi is in peace, harmony and unity.

“This is what we call Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. It should also be reflected in polling. We are all one. We should love each other and take everybody along,” he said.

He also criticised the the Election Commission saying it should have deployed the central paramilitary forces in large numbers in today's last phase of Lok Sabha elections, he said.

“Today polling is being conducted in a very few seats... the Election Commission also knows very well that very few seats have to be elected in this phase, as it has worries about law and order situation. But for free and fair elections, mere worrying is not enough,” Modi said.

“Polling is taking place in only 41 seats, instead of depending only upon the state police, the EC should deploy central security forces in large numbers to ensure healthy and peaceful polling,” he said.

Hailing the “vibrancy” of Indian democracy, Modi said the western world should analyse the success of Indian democracy.

”The western world should also analyse Indian democracy, as to what is the reason why crores of people in this blistering heat are participating with such an enthusiasm in this elections,” he said.

He said despite all the storm of “negative publicity” during the campaigning, people have shown enough wisdom to ”tell right from the wrong”.