The Election Commission on Monday imposed restrictions on the campaigning of four senior politicians for violating the model code of conduct in Uttar Pradesh.
The EC put a 72-hour prohibition on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a 48-hour ban on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, the BJP candidate from Sultanpur, has been restrained for 48 hours, and a 72-hour restriction has been imposed on Azam Khan, Samajwadi Party candidate from Rampur, beginning from 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
The orders, in which the Election Commission censured the four politicians, also prevent them from giving interviews or making any comment on the electronic, print orsocial media in connection with the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
At a rally on April 9, allegedly in response to Ms. Mayawati’s appeal on April 7 to Muslims to vote for the BSP-Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance, Mr. Adityanath had said that if the Congress, the SP and the BSP had faith in “Ali,” “then we also have faith in Bajrangbali.” He also made a reference to “h araa virus” [green virus].
While restraining him from campaigning, the EC noted that he was earlier cautioned to remain careful after his “ Modiji ki sena” [Modi’s Army] remark when speaking about the armed forces.
In a separate order against Ms. Gandhi, the EC said it had seen the video recording of her speech and was convinced that it violated the provisions of the model code as laid down in Para 3 and 4 of Part-1 of the ‘General Conduct’ section, pertaining to bribing or intimidation of voters.
The EC said she had also violated Section 123 (corrupt practices) of the Representation of the People Act, reprimanding her for the conduct.
At Turab Khani village, Ms. Gandhi had allegedly told Muslims that they should vote for her as they would need her help in the future.
As regards Mr. Khan, the EC said his speech at a rally in Rampur on Sunday — allegedly directed at his rival BJP candidate Jayaprada — was not only indecent, but also derogatory and totally uncalled for. Citing a 2013 advisory, it said all the political parties and candidates had been told to refrain from any actions repugnant to the honour and dignity of women.
Without naming the actor, Mr. Khan had said, “ You were represented (by her) for 10 years. People of Rampur, people of Uttar Pradesh and people of India, it took you 17 years to understand her reality. But, I could recognize it in 17 days that she wears a khaki underwear.”
Ms. Jayaprada had won Lok Sabha elections from Rampur in 2009 and 2014 on an SP ticket. However, this year she has switched parties and is contesting on a BJP ticket.
Responding to the EC orders, BSP chief Mayawati late on Monday said the 48-hour ban on her campaigning reflected the “anti-Dalit” mindset of the panel and alleged that the decision was unconstitutional and cruel.
She said she did not get a proper hearing before the EC ban nor was she provided a CD of the statement as requested.
“This will be remembered as a Black Day in the history of the EC,” she said at a press conference.
The EC ban on Ms Mayawati means she will miss the crucial joint rally of the SP-BSP-RLD in Agra on April 16. It is also the last day of campaigning for the second phase.
Ms. Mayawati said while she was penalised by the EC, the panel did not have the courage to issue notice to “real culprits” like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah whom she accused of violating the MCC through references to the Army and trying to incite religious feelings.
Soon after the EC banned Ms. Mayawati, her ally SP chief Akhilesh Yadav asked the Commission if it had the “integrity” to “stop the PM” from asking for votes in the name of the Army.