Indian vote body tells X to remove Modi party video targeting Muslims, opposition

Third phase of India general election

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Election Commission directed social media platform X on Tuesday to take down a video post by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party after an opposition complaint that it promoted enmity among economically weaker groups.

The takedown order for violation of poll rules came days after police registered a case against leaders of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including the president of its Karnataka state unit that had shared the post.

The animated video published last week during India's long general election accused opposition Congress leaders of planning to extend welfare benefits to the minority Muslim community at the cost of other disadvantaged tribal and Hindu caste groups.

Modi, seeking a third straight term, has made similar allegations in recent speeches and said Congress would distribute the wealth of majority Hindus among Muslims, whom he referred to as "infiltrators" who have "more children".

Congress denies making any such election promise.

"X is directed to take down the post immediately," a letter from the election commission to the social media platform said.

There was no immediate comment from X or the BJP.

Modi's critics accuse him and his party of targeting Muslims for electoral gains, which he has denied, saying that his government does not discriminate and also that he does not oppose the community or Islam.

About 80% of India's 1.4 billion people are Hindus but it also has the world's third largest Muslim population of about 200 million people.

The video depicted a caricature of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi placing a large egg tagged "Muslims" and feeding "funds" to the hatchling that emerges, which then pushes out of the nest three other hatchlings representing disadvantaged groups.

Congress said in its complaint to the election body that the post sought to "intimidate" members of the three weaker groups to not vote for the party "by projecting that funds reserved for them will be usurped by Muslims."

Modi and his BJP party have made controversial remarks in what analysts say is an attempt to invigorate their hardline base as the election sees comparatively low voter turnout compared to previous years.

(Reporting by Shivam Patel; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)