Hours after the Election Commission lifted the ban on campaigning by the BJP’s Amit Shah, U.P. Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, against whom the prohibition on participating in poll rallies continues, hit out at the EC, saying he would challenge the poll panel’s order in the Supreme Court.
On April 11, in a bid to curb hate speech during campaigning, the EC banned public meetings of Mr. Shah and Mr. Khan.
On April 16, in similar orders the EC, after considering the replies of both leaders, censured them for violation of Model Code of Conduct.
However, the very next day, it lifted the ban on rallies of Mr. Shah after he gave an undertaking that he would be mindful of his utterances. Senior EC officials said the ban on Mr. Khan’s rallies would continue as he had not shown any sign of ‘remorse’.
On Friday, a combative Mr. Khan was quoted as telling the media in Rampur that he would not apologise for his alleged hate speech as he had “not committed a crime.”
Alleging that the EC action against him smacked of “undeclared Emergency,” Mr. Khan asked, “Can any commission be above the Supreme Court? The Election Commission has a misunderstanding that its arbitrary powers can’t be challenged in any court.”
He was further quoted as saying, “A criminal, an assailant and a murderer of humanity [Mr. Shah], whose entry into Gujarat has been banned by the Supreme Court, availed himself of freedom to campaign, whereas the voice of a person whose entire community is a victim and who has a spotless character has been crushed.”
“I don't know what the EC wants from me. It punished me without considering my reply. They have committed a huge legal blunder in my matter.”
While the aide of the BJP prime ministerial candidate aide got into trouble for his remarks that the general election was an opportunity to seek “revenge for the insult” inflicted during the riots in Muzaffarnagar last year, Mr. Khan hit the headlines with his controversial statement that it was Muslim soldiers who had won the Kargil war for the country in 1999 and that no Hindu soldier had died.
In its order lifting the curbs on Mr. Shah, the EC referred to his undertaking on oath that he would not use abusive or derogatory language in the campaign and would not make any utterances violative of model code. It said the order was modified to give him a second chance. “The commission shall closely monitor your campaign activities by constant video tracking by district election authorities.”