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Election Commission issues notice to BJP

Special Correspondent

`Release of inflammatory CD, a violation of code'

Party given time till 3 p.m. today to explain CEO asked to file FIRs against Lalji Tandon, others responsible

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Thursday issued notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party to show cause as to why it should not be de-recognised as per the provisions of the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968, for violating the Model Code of Conduct by distributing a compact disc (CD), containing inflammatory campaign material, in Uttar Pradesh.

As the first round of polling in the State is slated for Saturday, the party has been given time till 3 p.m. on Friday to submit an explanation, failing which the Commission said it would take action in terms of Section 16 A of the Order.

The provision empowers the Commission to suspend or withdraw recognition of a political party if it fails to observe the Model Code of Conduct or follow its lawful directions and instructions.

In a communication to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Uttar Pradesh, the Commission directed that a First Information Report (FIR) be filed against the BJP president. However, Rajnath Singh has not been named in the Order.

The Commission directed that FIRs be filed against the party's State leader Lalji Tandon and all those responsible for the CD's production, release, distribution and exhibition. This includes the scriptwriters and those who acted.

The directive said the preparation and release of the CD, "which contains inflammatory material capable of creating enimity/hatred among different communities,'' amounted to violation of 153A, 153B and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, and Clauses (3) and (3A) of Section 123 and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

In the notice to Mr. Singh, the Commission said it was of the opinion that the release of the CD by Mr. Tandon and its display in various parts of the State amounted to violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Commission said it was informed on April 3 that the party leaders and workers released and displayed/distributed the CD containing inflammatory campaign material derogatory to the sentiments of certain communities and it could aggravate the differences or create mutual hatred.

Late on Thursday evening, senior BJP leaders, back here after campaigning for the first phase of elections, held a meeting to discuss the party's response to the Commission's notice.

Among those present were: Mr. Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Officially, the party said it would respond to the notice on Friday.