News18: New Delhi: Saturday, February 18, 2017.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has been cautioned by the Election Commission over alleged bribery remarks made by him during campaigning for the Goa elections.
The election watchdog found his remarks referring to votes-for-money as violation of the Model Code of Conduct. But what exactly did Parrikar say on January 29, 2017 in Chimbel town? Did he actually ask voters to take money and vote?
As per the Election Commission of India's interpretation of his speech in Konkani, it is a case of violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Parrikar, however, thinks his speech has been lost in translation and is now planning to file an RTI to find out who exactly translated his speech for the Election Commission, sources tell News18.
Earlier, the Commission did not heed to his request for an open forum with the translators. In his response to the EC notice, Parrikar suggested a discussion with EC translators along with an independent Konkani expert in the presence of three Election Commissioners.
However, in a letter dated February 16, the poll panel expressed satisfaction over the translation done by the three-member committee. Referring to the translation by the language expert, the Commission said it was substantially the same and did not contain any inaccuracy.
However, sources claim that what Parrikar actually said in Konkani was not a statement but a question. "Konache don hazar ruppya gheun mat marap?” Sources say it translates to: ‘Will you vote for someone who gives you Rs 2,000?’ But according to the EC transcription of the Konkani speech, Parrikar is heard saying: “Konache don hazare ruppya gheun tanka mat mara.” The difference is not an affirmative sentence, but a question.
Meanwhile, sources point out discrepancies in the two EC letters itself while quoting Parrikar's same comment. In the notice dated February 1, 2017, Parrikar's election campaign remark was quoted as: "...Today, take from anyone Rs 2,000 and vote for them." In the next notice dated February 7, 2017, the remark was quoted as: "You vote him by taking Rs 2,000 from someone (voice is not clear)”.
The complaint against Manohar Parrikar was made by AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who was himself censured for similar remarks. The EC had, in fact, ordered the filing of an FIR against Kejriwal as the poll panel found him guilty of promoting/abetment of bribery to the electors in a public meeting on January 8, 2017 in Mapusa, Goa.