The Election Commission on Monday, 15 April, “strongly condemned” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati for their communal remarks and barred them from campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, for 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively. The two separate EC orders, effective from 6 am on Tuesday, said that the two have also been “censured” for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
Mayawati was issued the notice for her speech in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoband appealing to Muslims to not vote for a particular party. The BSP chief had prima facie violated the model code of conduct, the poll panel found.
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, the Hindu god Hanuman.
In a retort, Mayawati had said that both ‘Ali and Bajrang Bali’ were on the alliance’s side.
Addressing a joint rally with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at Badaun in UP, she had said:
“Ali is ours, so is Bajrang Bali. We want both, especially the latter since he belongs to the Dalit community. Yogi himself said that Bajrang Bali was a forest dweller and a Dalit,” said Mayawati.
Notably, the UP CM had also stoked controversy by dubbing the Muslim League a “green virus”.
What EC Said
The Election Commission in its separate but similar orders said that it is convinced that the two made “highly provocative” speeches which have “the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities”.
"“(Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath) should have desisted (themselves) in making statements that have the undertone and propensity to polarise the elections, which is not confined to the constituency only where the statement is made, but to the other parts as well, due to fast dissemination of information in this digital age.”" - EC orders
The poll body noted that the two had appealed to secure votes on religious lines that tantamount to violation of the relevant provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.
How Campaigning Would be Affected?
Mayawati was expected to address a rally on 16 April in Agra, which would be affected due to the EC order. Polling in Agra and the nearby Fatehpur Sikri would be held in the second phase on 18 April.
Meanwhile, Yogi Adityanath was expected to a part of an event in Lucknow where Home Minister Rajnath Singh would file his nomination on 16 April, scheduled to be followed by a roadshow.
SC Was Irked Over Actions Taken by EC So Far Against Mayawati, Adityanath
Earlier on Monday, the Supreme had expressed displeasure over the EC action so far against Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath for their alleged hate speeches during campaigns and decided to examine the ambit of poll panel's power on the violation of model code of conduct.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the alleged hate speech of the two prominent leaders and asked the Election Commission about the action after its submission that it was "toothless".
"Tell us what are you doing... Tell us what actions you have taken," said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The top court also summoned a representative of the EC at 10:30 am on Tuesday and decided to examine the contention that the poll panel has limited legal powers to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering.
At one point during the hearing, it even threatened the EC counsel that it will force the Chief Election Commissioner to appear before it within half-an-hour.
The bench referred to submissions of the EC that they can issue notice, then advisory and finally lodge a complaint against an errant politician for violating the Model Code of Conduct by giving hate speeches based on caste and religion during campaign.
"The EC says they are toothless. They say that they first issue notice, then advisory and then complain," the bench said, adding it would examine the aspect relating to poll panel's power to deal with hate speeches during poll campaign.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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