It says the Union Steel Minister's ‘quota promise' violated the model code of conduct
The Election Commission (EC) has served notice on Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma to explain why action should not be taken against him for his statement on the intent of the Congress to provide job reservations to minorities and daring the Commission to act against him.
The Commission deemed it necessary to slap the show-cause on Mr. Verma even before the ink has dried on the apology letter of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid to the EC earlier in the week for his statements twice on the same subject.
‘Reply by Monday’
In its notice to Mr. Verma based on a copy of video recordings of an election rally in Uttar Pradesh addressed by the Minister, the Commission on Saturday said he had violated the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct. The Minister has been given time till Monday 5 p.m. to explain his position.
Hours before the EC notice, at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Verna termed his statement “a slip of tongue.”
“I have been addressing four to five rallies everyday and sometimes I fail to pay attention that in which reference I am saying something,” he was quoted by the PTI as saying.
Mr. Verma had made the statement on reservations three days ago and challenged the Commission to take him on in the presence of Mr. Khurshid and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.
The Commission noted that the Minister made the statement deliberately as he was “well aware that by making such utterances, he was violating the model code of Conduct.”
The notice has said if the Minister chooses to ignore it, the Commission will decide the matter without any further reference to him.
In an unprecedented action, the EC on February 11 petitioned President Pratibha Patil seeking her “immediate and decisive intervention” against the Law Minister for daring the Commission to ‘hang him' on the quota issue. The EC approached the President after Mr. Khurshid ignored its first warning.
The President had forwarded the EC complaint to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Curtains came down on the controversy after the Law Minister wrote to the Commission apologising for his statements.
‘EC being denigrated’
In a memorandum on Friday seeking action against the Steel Minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the Union Ministers were carefully chosen to denigrate the Commission.
The party urged the Commission to consider measures more stringent than a mere censure such as prosecution and debarring from electioneering.