As the Election Commission received no word from the President’s office or the PMO on the follow-up action on the complaint lodged by it against Law Minister Salman Khursheed to the President for “defying” its (EC) authority wilfully, the Commission claimed that its decision was “appropriate in the given circumstance”.
“We have no other go except to take such a decision to write a letter seeking the President’s intervention as the Minister, who is in charge of Law and Minorities Affairs, continued to defy the Commission’s order wilfully and challenged its authority thus affecting the level playing field in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election,” said a senior EC official.
When pointed out to the comment made by a former Chief Election Commissioner that the Commission had powers to ban the Minister from entering U.P. or book a case against him under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobeying the lawful directions of the government authority), the official shot back: “Just go through the Section. What is there in it? Do you expect such a simple IPC section will deter a Minister from speaking further.”
Similarly invoking powers to ban a person from entering an area where elections were held would be applicable if there were law and order disturbances or communal riot due to his action or speech. “In this case (Mr. Khursheed) no such thing happened. Moreover he is not even a candidate. Then where is the question of banning him,” the official asked.
The official refuted the Minister’s statement that his promise of providing a nine per cent sub-quota for minorities in U.P. within the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in government educational institutions and jobs was already there in the Congress manifesto for previous polls.
“This is totally wrong. You go through the Commission’s order on February 9 censuring Mr. Khursheed.” The order clearly said that the Minister had failed to prove his claim that the sub-quota was mentioned in the earlier manifestos.
The order said: “He (Mr. Khursheed), however, failed to show to the Commission any manifesto of his party where the party has made any announcement to the effect that 9% seats would be reserved for minorities out of the above mentioned 27% quota for OBCs either as on that day or later. Even in the latest manifesto of the party released on 30.01.2012 by it in the context of the current ongoing general election in U.P., there is no mention of any specific sub-quota... Nor is there any mention of such sub-quota for minorities in the vision paper issued by the party along with the release of its manifesto on 30.01.2012.”
Not only this, even in the manifestos released by the Congress for 2009 Lok Sabha poll or the subsequent Assembly elections in various States, “the party has not spoken, nor made any promise, about any specific sub-quota for minorities".
“The experience also shows that the political parties often vary or amend their manifestos from election to election and it is not necessary that a certain policy or programme projected in one manifesto would be repeated in the subsequent manifestos also.”
"In view of the above, EC is unable to accept the above plea of reiteration of a policy of the party being taken by the respondent to justify his impugned statement. The dictionary meaning of the word “reiterate” is to say or do over again or several times or repeat. When something has not been said at all in the past, and is being said for the first time, the Commission wonders how it can be said that it is being reiterated,” the EC's order said according to the official.