Prodded by the Supreme Court to take prompt action against political leaders who cross the line, the Election Commission on Monday banned Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan from campaigning for 72 hours. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has also been barred from campaigning for 48 hours.The commission, which had hours earlier prohibited Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP chief Mayawati from campaigning, formally “reprimanded” Azam Khan and Maneka Gandhi for their controversial remarks.Azam Khan has triggered a huge row over his “underwear” jibe at Jaya Prada who is fighting the Lok Sabha election 2019 from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur parliamentary constituency against him.“I brought her (Jaya Prada) to Rampur. You are a witness that I did not allow anyone to touch her body. It took you 17 years to identify her real face but I got to know in 17 days that she wears khaki underwear,” Khan had said while addressing a campaign rally in Rampur.The Election Commission said the comment was “not only indecent but also derogatory and totally uncalled for”. It also recalled that the poll panel had earlier banned him from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 national elections. But he is “still indulging in using very objectionable language in election campaigning,” the panel said in its order.Union Minister Maneka Gandhi got into trouble with the Election Commission over her speech in Sultanpur where she was, according to a widely-circulated video clip, asked Muslims to vote for her. “I will not feel good about a victory without the support of Muslims. My feelings will get hurt. If Muslims then come to me asking for work, then I will think ‘let it be, how does it matter?’ Dil khatta ho jayega (my heart will turn sour).”Sultanpur is one of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and will vote in the sixth phase of elections. Maneka swapped her Pilibhit seat with son Varun Gandhi’s Sultanpur.In her defence, Maneka Gandhi did tell the commission that she was only trying to introduce herself and her work in her earlier constituency, Pilibhit, to the electorate in Sultanpur.The Election Commission, however, wasn’t convinced and punished her with a 48-hour gag order that kicks in from 10 am Tuesday morning. The commission said her speech had violated provisions on bribery and corrupt practices in elections including the Supreme Court verdict that banned politicians from seeking votes on caste and communal lines.
Apr 15, 2019 21:36 IST