- Yogi Adityanath barred from campaigning for next three days
- Mayawati barred from campaigning for next two days
- Both violated Election Commission's model code of conduct
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been barred from campaigning for the next three days for his communal comments by the Election Commission, which recently faced opposition allegations that it is soft on leaders of the ruling party violating the Model Code of Conduct. The commission also took action against Mayawati, barring her from campaigning for 48 hours for her provocative speech in Deoband.
In 2014, the Commission took action against BJP chief Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan for hate speech.
Its action this time came on a day the Supreme Court pulled it up for failing to take action in cases of Model Code violation and questioning if it was even aware of its powers to force errant political leaders to fall in line.
Within a couple of hours, the poll body -- which earlier issued notices to Yogi Adiyanath and Mayawati -- ordered a ban, invoking special powers under Article 324 of the Constitution.
At a recent meeting in Deoband, Mayawati had warned the Muslim community not to "split votes" between the Congress and her alliance. Appealing to caste or communal feelings to secure votes is a no-no under the model code, which is a series of dos and don'ts for political parties ahead of elections.
Days later, hitting out at Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath said, "If the Congress, the SP and the BSP have faith in Ali, then we too have faith in Bajrang Bali" - a comment that triggered outraged protests from the opposition. While Ali is revered by Muslims as Prophet Mohammad's successor, Bajrang Bali is another name for Lord Hanuman.
Asked about the opposition criticism during an interview today, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told NDTV that while there are options like barring the candidate from the polling process, "I don't think sending an advisory to a person who is a Chief Minister of biggest state, that too in black and white -- that is a slap on the wrist".
He, however, added that the Commission now has the full transcript on Yogi Adityanath's "Ali, Bajrang Bali" comment. "We will be taking a call tomorrow," he added.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court -- which was hearing an appeal seeking action against political parties using use religion and caste to seek votes -- was extremely upset when the Election Commission's representative said, "We don't have any powers. We can't bar them from contesting. We can de-recognise them".
"The Election Commission says 'we are toothless'. They issue a notice if someone violates model code...or uses religion or caste for votes...then an advisory of they don't follow notice... We would like to examine the matter, we want a representative of the EC who is conversant with the details to appear," a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.
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