India's election panel has issued orders to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress to exercise restraint in their campaigns, following reports of divisive speeches during India's vote. Both parties accused each other of making such speeches, with the panel deeming the defences put forth by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as 'not tenable'.

The Election Commission received complaints from both sides, with the BJP alleging that Gandhi and Congress had made speeches inciting division based on religion, caste, and language. On the other hand, Congress accused Modi of soliciting votes based on religion, stating that Congress would seize and redistribute the wealth of India's majority Hindus among minority Muslims.

India is currently in the midst of the world's largest election, spanning seven phases, and the final vote count is scheduled for June 4th. To prevent further polarization, the commission has directed the BJP and its star campaigners to refrain from campaigning along religious or communal lines.

While approximately 80% of India's population of 1.4 billion are Hindus, the country also boasts the world's third-largest Muslim population, numbering around 200 million individuals. The BJP alleged that Gandhi and Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge created hostilities among disadvantaged Hindu and tribal groups by claiming that the BJP discriminates against them and would abolish the Indian constitution if victorious in the election. The commission has now cautioned Congress campaigners against giving the false impression that the constitution may be abolished or sold.

It is worth noting that the commission found the defences provided by both parties for their respective speeches as 'not tenable', expressing concern over the continuation of such rhetoric by their campaigners. In response, it has ordered the parties to refrain from making any prohibited statements outlined in the election Model Code of Conduct.