On Thursday, Vadodara corporator Shailesh Mehta ‘Sotta’, was served a notice from the election commission. Sotta, who is contesting elections from BJP for the Dabhoi assembly seat was served the notice for making “communally provocative” campaign speech. Sotta said, “if someone with dadhi-topi (beard and cap) is among the people here, forgive me but their number here has to reduce” because “there should be no population of Dubai” in Dabhoi. He also said that if he is elected he will not donate ‘a single paisa to a masjid and madrasa.’
Sotta’s speech at a public meeting was filmed and did the rounds of social media before it drew the attention of election officers. Muslims voters constitute about 37.54 per cent of Dabhoi’s population. Dabhoi also has a large number of Patels. The Indian Express reported that at the public meeting, Sotta said, “If someone with dadhi-topi is among the people here, forgive me but their number here has to reduce. We have to see there should be no population of Dubai here (Dabhoi). I want to assure you that I will not donate a single paisa to a masjid and madrasa.”
In the speech, Sotta was also referred that he was advised by the people not to speak on communal matters. But he made a remark by saying that he had to speak for his “own qaum” (own community). He said, “People warned me against speaking about this as it will create a controversy, but if 90 per cent people are with me, why should I stop speaking because of the 10 per cent? I was born in this qaum and it is my right to speak about my own qaum. If I cannot do that, then what is the point of contesting polls.”
Sotta while addressing the public meeting, warned that those who promote and indulge in “rioting” will be given a befitting reply. District Election Officer P Bharati said, “We have seen the video and it is a serious act of violation of the Model Code of Conduct.” Election officers were in the process of preparing a report on Sotta’s public meeting. On Friday, the Election Officer will serve notice to Sotta.
While speaking to The Indian Express, Sotta said that he made a reference to the anti-social elements and did not name any community. “I was referring to anti-social elements who have been running their activities by threatening people in that area (Dabhoi). Some of these anti-social elements and criminals, who have been detained by 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, innocent people can live happily,” he said.