The BJP on Monday moved the Election Commission seeking action against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and derecognition of her party for her use of the term "sovereignty" for Karnataka during the state poll campaign. The party also demanded an FIR against her.
A BJP delegation headed by Union minister Bhupender Yadav submitted a memorandum to the poll panel in Delhi over the issue.
"Karnataka is a very important member state in the Union of India and any call to protect the sovereignty of a member state of the Union of India amounts to a call for secession and is fraught with perilous and pernicious consequences," the party said.
Speaking to reporters, party leader Tarun Chugh, who was part of the delegation besides BJP MP Anil Baluni and leader Om Pathak, cited the Representation of the People Act and said the Congress party should be derecognised.
The BJP also submitted a copy of the Congress tweet quoting Gandhi, the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson, on the issue.
The opposition party had tweeted, "CPP Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi ji sends a strong message to 6.5 crore Kannadigas: 'The Congress will not allow anyone to pose a threat to Karnataka's reputation, sovereignty or integrity'."
The BJP filed a complaint with the Election Commission in Bengaluru as well and requested it to issue direction for registration of an FIR against her over the use of the word "sovereignty".
Noting that a "sovereign" by definition is an independent nation, the complaint said, "When a country becomes independent, that country is called a sovereign country. India is a sovereign country and the state of Karnataka is a proud part in it. Till today no one raised any question about the integrity of Kannadigas with the sovereignty of the nation."
The complaint added, "The meaning of what Congress is saying is that the Congress believes that Karnataka is separate from India. This statement is divisive in nature. It is aimed at dividing the citizens and creating a rift between people of different states. Karnataka is not different from India. This is a shocking statement leading to igniting divisive sentiments and to create disharmony in the society."
Describing the Congress' tweet quoting Gandhi as "shocking and unacceptable", Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who filed the complaint, said Gandhi had violated provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and requested the EC to take stringent action against her for making "such a statement".
Karandlaje, convener of the BJP Election Management Committee, also requested the EC to issue directions to register an FIR against her and take exemplary punitive action.
"This is an insult to freedom fighters from Karnataka, who fought for India's independence. It is an insult to crores of patriotic Kannadigas, who swear by India and cherish their Indianness," said the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare.
The statement would lead to division on the basis of language and statehood, the complaint alleged.
The BJP also demanded that the Congress should apologise for its advertisement listing "corruption rates" in the state, between 2019 and 2023, while attacking the BJP government.
Polling to elect 224 members of the Karnataka assembly will be held on May 10 and the counting of votes will take place on May 13.