ECI orders removal of Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma from BJP star campaigners list

After prima facie finding that recent statements made by them were in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Updated - January 29, 2020 06:31 pm IST

Published - January 29, 2020 04:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma. File

Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma. File

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday ordered the removal of Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and BJP MP from West Delhi Parvesh Verma from the BJP’s list of star campaigners for the Delhi Assembly elections after prima facie  finding that recent statements made by them were in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

In a statement, the ECI said: “Election Commission has ordered the removal of Sh. Anurag Thakur and Sh. Parvesh Sahib Singh from the list of star campaigners of Bhartiya Janta Party for the general elections to the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi with immediate effect and until further orders (sic).”

The two leaders would still be allowed to campaign but the expenses incurred on their campaigning would be counted in the expenditure by the candidate concerned. The expenditure of star campaigners, a list of which is submitted to the ECI ahead of elections, while campaigning are not counted as a part of the candidate’s expenses and are borne by the political party.

The ECI also issued a notice to Mr. Verma on Wednesday for his comments to a news agency and a speech in Vikaspuri where he made comments with the “potential of disturbing harmony and aggravating the existing difference between social and religious communities”. Mr. Verma had told the news agency, ANI, that people “there” (Shaheen Bagh) would “enter your homes and rape your sisters and daughters”.

Mr. Thakur was issued a notice by the ECI on Tuesday evening for participating in chants of “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro salo ko” at a rally in Rithala.

In the notices, the ECI said it found the statements made by the leaders to be prima facie in violation of the MCC and gave them till 12 noon on Thursday to give their replies. According to ECI officials, removing the two leaders from the list of star campaigners was an interim action. The Commission would take a call on the cases after receiving responses from Mr. Thakur and Mr. Verma.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, who is also the BJP’s in-charge for Delhi elections, said the party would study the ECI’s order before taking any action.

“I have just got information that the Election Commission has issued some directions. We will study and if necessary present a letter and application. But more importantly, the BJP is putting up a balanced campaign with positivity,” he said, in response to a question about the ECI’s order during a press conference to announce the Cabinet’s decisions on Wednesday.

The ECI wrote to all recognised parties on Wednesday, reiterating instructions under the MCC. It said there had been “several instances of undesirable public utterances” in violation of the Code in the Delhi elections so far.

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