The Election Commission has issued notice to Union Minister Sharad Pawar to explain controversial remarks in the course of an election speech asking voters to exercise their franchise twice by rubbing off the indelible ink.

On the basis of a petition filed by the BJP, the Election Commission asked the Minister to explain his stand on the remarks before 5 p.m. on Thursday failing which “the ECI shall take a decision without further reference to you.”

The BJP in its petition said the Minister violated the Model Code of Conduct and action should be taken against Mr. Pawar.

Though Mr. Pawar has sought to clarify that he made the remarks in jest, the justification may not cut ice with the Commission. The only question is how far would the EC go in acting against the Minister. The Commission has vast powers to act against erring Ministers.

The EC quoted from the BJP complaint which reproduces the purported remarks of Mr. Pawar. The BJP has also sent a video copy of Mr. Pawar’s speech.