Millennium Post

After SC rap, EC 'censures' Yogi, Maya

New Delhi: Hours after the Supreme Court pulled up the Election Commission for its failure to take action against hate speech during the Lok Sabha election campaign, the Election Commission on Monday barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati from campaigning for 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively.

The period of their debarment — which as per EC order prohibits them from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews and public utterances in media (electronic, print, social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections - starts at 6 am on Tuesday (April 16). This means that while Yogi has to stay away from campaigning till 6 am on April 19, Mayawati can resume campaign after 6 am on April 18.

Effectively, the two leaders cannot campaign in constituencies covered in the second phase of polling due on April 18, after 10 pm on Monday.

The EC in its order on Monday said that it "strongly condemns" Yogi for his "green virus" and "Ali-Bajrangbali" remarks during the election campaign in Meerut on April 9 and "censures" him for the "misconduct".

Similarly, the EC "strongly condemned" and "censured" Mayawati for her "highly provocative speech" on April 7 at Deoband, Saharanpur, saying that the tone and tenor of her references to Muslims stood to aggravate existing differences between religious communities.

The EC, in its separate orders on model code violations by Yogi and Mayawati, observed that being senior leaders, they should have desisted from "making statements that have the undertone and propensity to polarise the elections, which is not confined to the constituency only where the statement is made, but to other parts as well, due to fast dissemination of information in this digital age".

On being asked about the different periods for the two leaders, a senior EC functionary explained: "It is for the second time that the Uttar Pradesh CM has been issued a show cause notice by the EC. On April 5, he was asked to be 'careful' in the future."

Earlier, taking note of the alleged hate speeches made by BSP supremo Mayawati and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during poll campaigns, the Supreme Court sought to know from the Election Commission about the action initiated against them.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi summoned a representative of the EC for Tuesday while agreeing to examine the poll panel's contention that it has limited legal powers to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering.

The bench referred to submissions of the EC that they can issue notice, then advisory and finally lodge a complaint against an errant politician for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving hate speeches based on caste and religion during the campaign.

"The EC says they are toothless. They say that they first issue notice, then advisory and then complain," the bench said, adding it would examine the aspect relating to poll panel's power to deal with hate speeches during the poll campaign.

Late on Monday, the Election Commission of India barred Azam Khan of Samajwadi party and union minister Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

While Azam Khan has been barred for three days, Maneka Gandhi will face the censure for two days starting 10 am on Tuesday.

The EC had taken a similar step in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it had banned BJP leader Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan from campaigning in UP on April 11 for their controversial remarks.See P5

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