Hours after banning Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati from campaigning ahead of second phase of Lok Sabha election, the Election Commission (EC) on Monday continued its crackdown on loose talks during canvassing by political leaders and barred Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively.

While Khan was penalised for his sexist jibe against actor-turned politician Jaya Prada who is contesting on a BJP ticket from Rampur, Gandhi’s ban came after she stirred a controversy for asking Muslims in Sultanpur that she would not want to give them jobs if they did not vote for her.

The commission said it found that Khan’s statement was not only indecent, but also derogatory and totally uncalled for. It further said that Khan seemed to have not changed in his way of campaigning since being censured by the EC in 2014.
Regarding Gandhi’s speech, the EC said it violated provisions of the Model Code of Conduct that bar political parties from securing votes by appealing on the basis of caste or communal feelings and bribing or intimidating voters.

The EC, in its order, said it was convinced that both the leaders “made highly provocative speech which has the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities”.

The poll body has been under the scanner for its meek response to poll code violations, especially when it let off the UP chief minister with a warning after he described the Indian Army as ‘Modi ki Sena’.

The EC had asked Adityanath to be careful in future and sent him another notice when he dared the Opposition that if they “have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrangbali”. His “green virus” remark aimed at the Muslim League had also drawn flak, with opposition parties demanding action against the UP chief minister.

In his response to the notice, Adityanath said he made the statement in retaliation to Mayawati’s appeal to Muslim voters in Deoband, which was also taken note of by the EC.

Mayawati had cautioned voters, “particularly Muslims”, against splitting their votes in the eight western UP seats that went to polls in the first phase on April 11.


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