ECI hauls up Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati for communal speeches, temporarily bars them from campaigning

ECI hauls up Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati for communal speeches, temporarily bars them from campaigning

Meera Emmanuel

The Election Commission of India has passed orders temporarily barring incumbent Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the BSP’s Mayawati from campaigning for the 2019 general elections on finding them guilty of having made polarising, communal speeches in violation fo the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Yogi Adityanath has been pulled up for having used objectionable statements such as “green virus” in relation to the Muslim League party. Referring to the campaign trail in Kerala, where the Congress is allied with the Muslim League, Adityanath is reported to have said that the Congress has been infected with the “green virus”. The Election Commission has also censured Adityanath for having appealed for votes in the name of “Bajrang Bali”.

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The genesis of the case lies in the 1990 Assembly elections to the Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly. The appellant Abhiram Singh, a candidate of the BJP, was elected from Santa Cruz constituency. The respondent, a candidate of the Congress party came in second. It led to an election petition alleging that the appellant had appealed for votes on the basis of Hindu religion. The election petition was allowed by the Bombay High Court in 1991.

The objectionable speech was made during campaigns held in Meerut. On finding that the same was highly provocative and had the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities,  the Election Commission has barred Adityanath from carrying out electoral campaign work for a 72 -hour period starting from 6 am on April 16 (Tuesday).

By a separate order, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati has been barred from carrying out campaign work for a 48-hour period starting 6 am on April 16. While making an election speech in Saharanpur, Mayawati is reported to have made a special appeal to Muslim voters to vote for the coalition parties fighting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Finding that her speech was highly provocative and violative of the MCC for its communal tone and tenor, the Commission has barred her from campaigning for a two day period starting tomorrow morning.

Both orders were passed by the Election Commission today citing a violation of Paras 3 and 4 of Part I of the Model Code of Conduct. In doing so, the Election Commission invoked Sections 123 and 125 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 which penalise the promotion of communal and caste differences for electoral gains.

On a related note, the Supreme Court today pulled up the Election Commission for apparently being toothless in acting against political spokespersons who violate the Model Code of Conduct. A representative of the Election Commission of India is also expected to be present in Court tomorrow when the matter will be taken up next.

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