Even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been more organised in its campaign in Himachal Pradesh in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the party is on the back foot over Election Commission’s action against state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti for the derogatory remarks he made against Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Satti has been barred from the poll campaign for 48 hours by the EC Saturday morning onwards. The state BJP chief is otherwise known as vocal and straight in his political expressions with people in his constituency. The BJP insiders feel that this probably was one of the reasons that he lost the Assembly poll in Una in 2017 (after three consecutive wins) despite the fact that BJP came back to power in the state with a bang.

Satti has been caught on the wrong foot this time for the derogatory words he uttered at a poll meeting that invited criticism from all quarters, including his own party.

The party cadres feel that the incident has sent wrong signals to the public in poll time. “This has put him and the BJP in poor light (as he is the party president) in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls in Himachal which is otherwise known for political decorum,” said some BJP men.

While BJP officially has no explanation for the episode involving Satti’s remarks against Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur could only say that “everyone needs to exercise restraint in the language used in electioneering” while the Congress has got a handy issue to take to the masses in the election campaign in Himachal.

“The EC has rightly imposed the ban on the poll campaign by Satti for 48 hours. The EC should rather take stricter action in such cases as the derogatory language used by state BJP chief is not acceptable in the society,” said state Congress Chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore.

The senior Congress leader said Satti has been proved wrong by EC. “The EC action against the state president of a national party also raises questions about the national leadership of the party,” he said.

Rathore said the EC should keep an eye over the BJP campaign. “Fearful of impending defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in Himachal, the BJP is putting in every effort to mislead people in the state,” he said.

BJP General Secretary, Chander Mohan Thakur, who is heading party’s election management committee for these elections, counterattacked Congress instead and said the opposition party has stooped low in electioneering in the entire country.

“BJP president in HP Satpal Satti has put forth his point before the public on the issue. But Congress, I would say, is flogging a dead horse. It has neither any policy nor issue to impress the public,” he said.

Thakur said the BJP does not believe in breaking decorum of language and had never used any derogatory language against Congress leaders even when their names figured in corruption and various scams. “But look at the Congress party at the national level; what language they have been using against the Prime Minister who worked sincerely for the people day and night for five years,” he said.