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Communal speech: EC bars Adiyanath, Mayawati from campaigning for 72 and 48 hrs respectively


In a first, the EC on Monday imposed a nation-wide ban on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati from campaigning for 72 and 48 hours respectively from Tuesday for their “provocative” communal remarks, which it said had the “propensity to polarise the elections”.

The Election Commission order to bar these leaders came within few hours of the Supreme Court taking note of the communal remarks by them during their Lok Sabha poll campaigns and asking the poll watchdog about the action it has initiated against them.

However, a senior EC functionary said the commission had examined the two issues on April 14-15, and came up with the final decision on Monday after lots of deliberation as it felt a clear message should go out to the politicians.

In its order, the commission said, it “strongly condemns” the impugned statement made by the UP chief minister and “censured” him for “misconduct”.

Using its constitutional powers under Article 324 of the Constitution, the EC barred him from “holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews, public utterances in media (print, electronic and social media) in connection with the ongoing elections for 72 hours (three days) from 6.00 am on April 16.”

In another order on similar lines, the commission also censured and “strongly” condemned Mayawati for her remarks, and barred her from campaigning for 48 hours or two days, starting from 6.00 am Tuesday.

According to EC officials, this is for the first time an all-India ban has been imposed on politicians to campaign in elections and also it is for the first time such a restriction has been put against a chief minister.

On the different time periods for the leaders, a senior EC official said, “it is for the second time that the Uttar Pradesh CM has been issued a show cause notice by the EC. On April 5, he was asked to be ‘careful’ in the future.”

“This is the first show cause and action against the BSP president … the severity of the action is, therefore, different,” he said.

The EC has written to chief electoral officers of all states informing them about their decision on Adityanath and Mayawati to ensure that the orders are not violated.

Mayawati was issued the notice for her speech in Deoband, where she appealed to Muslims to not vote for the Congress.

The BSP chief had violated the Model Code of Conduct, the poll panel found.

Chief Minister Adityanath was served the notice for his “Ali” and “Bajrang Bali” remarks while addressing a rally in Meerut.

He compared the Lok Sabha elections to a contest between ‘Ali’, a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali (another name of the Hindu god Hanuman).

The poll panel also observed that being the chief minister of a state, Adityanath has an “added responsibility to not only uphold the basic tenets, including secularism, of the Constitution of India, but also to display the same in his public appearances”.

The order said, the EC is convinced that Adityanath made a “highly provocative” speech which had the “tone and tenor” to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between religious communities.

The poll panel told Mayawati that being a senior leader, she should have “desisted” from making such comments that have the “undertone and propensity to polarise the elections” in several constituencies due to the reach of the media.

Earlier, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has summoned a representative of the EC on Tuesday while agreeing to examine the poll panel’s contention that it has limited legal powers to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering.

During 2014 LS polls, the EC had imposed state-specific ban on BJP leader Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh on April 11 for their controversial remarks.

The ban on Shah was lifted in a few days after he assured the poll body that he would not disturb public tranquillity and law and order. Since Khan had not given a similar assurance, the ban on him had continued.

A similar ban was placed on BJP leader Giriraj Singh from campaigning in Jharkhand and Bihar for his controversial remarks that people who do not vote for Narendra Modi will have to find a place in Pakistan.

While there was no immediate reaction from Adityanath and Mayawati, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav took to Twitter to ask EC whether it is capable to issue similar directives to the prime minister.

“EC directive against @mayawati ji begs the question: do they have integrity to stop PM from asking for votes in name of the army?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks asking first-time voters to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the Balakot air strike are under examination of the poll panel. The poll authorities in Maharashtra’s Latur, where he made the speech, have told EC that prima facie the comments are violative of its orders, asking parties against using the armed forces in their campaigns.

Meanwhile, the EC is also examining SP leader Azam Khan’s alleged “underwear” jibe against his BJP rival from Rampur Lok Sabha seat Jay Prada.

“If the EC concludes that he has actually made those remarks, it would take a call based on the provision. It can also go beyond the ambit of the model code as the reported remarks are not in a good taste,” a senior EC official said.

About PTI

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India. Collectively, they put out more than 2,000 stories and 200 photographs a day to feed the expansive appetite of the diverse subscribers, who include the mainstream media, the specialised presses, research groups, companies, and government and non-governmental organisations.

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