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A Supreme Court bench looked into the matter of Election Commission failing to rein in controversial statements of the political leaders. The bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, reviewed the powers of the quasi-judicial institution. The bench took the cases of alleged communal speeches of BSP supremo Mayawati and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and asked about the action taken so far against them while deciding to examine the statutory powers of poll panel to deal with the violation of model code of conduct (MCC).
Within hours of the SC taking note of Election Commission’s powers, the poll body took strict actions against various politicians in Uttar Pradesh.
The Election Commission said on Monday it “strongly condemned” UP CM Yogi Adityanath for his “green virus” and “Ali-Bajrang Bali” remarks made while campaigning in Meerut on April 9 and “censures” him for the “misconduct”. Passing a similar verdict against BSP chief Mayawati for her “highly provocative speech” on April 7 at Deoband, Saharanpur, asking Muslims to vote unitedly in favour of their candidate, the EC concluded that both Adityanath and Mayawati’s remarks “contaminated” the electoral process.
EC barred Yogi for 72 hours from campaigning or participating in any public meeting. Mayawati has been censored for 48 hours.
However, Adityanath and Mayawati stood by their remarks. “I used the term ‘green virus’ for the thought which practises vote bank politics on religious lines… Such narrow thought is harmful for healthy politics… Those practising such politics have to be eliminated just the way a virus is removed,” the CM said.
Mayawati called the EC “anti-Dalit” and accused it of working at the behest of BJP.
SP leader Azam Khan was pulled up for his “indecent, derogatory and totally uncalled for” remarks against Jaya Prada in Rampur on Sunday. the EC seemed set to slap another notice on Khan for his alleged remark that he would make the district magistrate of Rampur wipe Mayawati’s shoes.
Within hours of issuing the orders against Adityanath and Mayawati, the EC came out with a similar order prohibiting campaigning by Union minister Maneka Gandhi for 48 hours for her April 11 remarks in Sultanpur suggesting that she will not recommend Muslims for jobs if they don’t vote for her.
While Adityanath, Mayawati and Gandhi were given an opportunity to explain their conduct, the Commission acted directly against Khan citing his past conduct and the fact that he hadn’t “changed his ways of campaigning” and was still “indulging in using very objectionable language in election campaigning”.
All four leaders have been barred from “holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews, public utterances in media (electronic, print and social media etc.) in connection with ongoing elections” during the ban period. While the ban on Gandhi and Khan is effective from 10 am Tuesday, it starts 6 am for the remaining two leaders.