New Delhi: In a video clip that is being shared widely on social media, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Friday sparked outrage when she said Muslims should not expect jobs if they do not vote for her in Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) Sultanpur constituency.
“This is important. I am winning. I am winning because of the love and support of people. But if my victory is without Muslims, I won’t feel that good. Things will become sour. Then when a Muslim comes to me for work, I think let it be, how does it matter,” Gandhi said while addressing a poll rally in Sultanpur.
She said that Muslim voters needed to understand that it was a give and take relation.
“It is not that I will keep on giving without getting your support in elections in return. We are not the children of Mahatma Gandhi. You can ask anyone in my earlier constituency Pilibhit about the kind of work I have done there. If you feel I haven’t done enough, you can decide not to vote for me,” Gandhi said.
She said it was the local people of Sultanpur who needed her, and not the other way round.
“I have already won the election, but you will need me. This is your chance to lay the foundation of trust. This victory will happen with or without you,” Gandhi, a six-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Pilibhit, told the crowd.
The Sultanpur seat is currently held by her son Varun Gandhi. This time, Varun shifted back to Pilibhit, a seat he won in 2009.
Reacting to Gandhi’s statement, political analyst Avtar Negi said that nobody can force anyone, directly or indirectly, to vote in favour of someone.
“Good work not words draw love and affection for a candidate. And how is Maneka Gandhi ever going to know who voted in her favour and who did not. She will be the chosen servant of the people. It will be unlawful if she selectively disregards a community,” Negi told Gulf News.
Political commentator Vijay Chaturvedi said this statement was enough for Gandhi to be disqualified from the elections.
“Legally speaking, poll result can be revoked if winning is attributable to threats and coercion. The candidates must not only choose words carefully, but also play a safe strategy. If she is not disqualified from elections for making such communal statements, then democracy is a failure in this country,” Chaturvedi said.
Last week, Gandhi described Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati as a “merchant of tickets.” She accused her of taking Rs150-200 million (Dh8-Dh10.6 million) from those who wanted to be chosen as BSP’s candidates.