- Maneka Gandhi had threatened to neglect places that do not vote for her
- On April 15, the BJP candidate had faced a 48-hour ban from campaigning
- Poll body rules remarks are in violation of the Model Code of Conduct
Weeks after Union Minister Maneka Gandhi threatened to neglect places in Sultanpur that do not vote for her en masse in the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission today warned her against making remarks aimed at intimidating or bribing voters in the constituency.
The election body ruled that the remarks were in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. On April 15, the BJP candidate had faced a 48-hour ban from campaigning for allegedly warning the Muslim community in Sultanpur that she will not work for those who fail to vote for her.
The Election Commission cited the video recording of a speech delivered by Maneka Gandhi at Sultanpur's Sarkoda village two weeks ago in its order issued today. "We win in Pilbhit every time, and let me explain our parameters for deciding which village to prioritise in matters of developmental work. We segregate villages into categories A, B, C and D. Villages where we get 80% votes are slotted in category A, 60% in category B, 50% in category C, and less than 50% in category D. Development work is taken up first in category A villages, followed by category B and category C. So it is up to you to decide whether your village should come in category A, B or C, because we have all come here to do good," she had said at the April 14 rally, adding that nobody should come in category D.
The election body said in its order that Maneka Gandhi's remarks violate rules that clearly forbid candidates from avoiding "all activities which are 'corrupt practices' and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters..."
The warning comes on a day when the Congress has moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission, alleging reluctance on its part to take action on "poll code violations" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Congress parliamentarian Sushmita Dev claimed in her petition that the election body has done little despite both leaders politicising military operations and resorting to "hate speech" at political events.
Maneka Gandhi is contesting from Sultanpur, a seat won by her son - Varun Gandhi - in 2014.
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