Lok Sabha polls 2019: EC bars Yogi, Maya, Azam, Maneka from campaigning

Yogi Adityanath, Azam Khan not to campaign for 3 days, Maneka, Mayawati 2.

New Delhi: A livid Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Election Commission (EC) for “sleeping” over violations of model code of conduct by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP chief Mayawati while delivering hate speeches and seeking votes in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls on the basis of religion earlier this month.

The tongue-lashing by the top court sent the poll panel into a hyperactive mode as it banned both the Uttar Pradesh leaders from campaigning for three and two days respectively within minutes of the court hearing.

By late evening, the EC also banned Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan and Union Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for similar offence.

Azam Khan and Maneka Gandhi were banned from campaigning for 72 hours and 48 hours respectively, starting from April 16, 10 am. While expressing displeasure over the EC not taking quick action against hate speeches, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi gave the poll panel time till Tuesday to explain its lawyer’s submissions that the EC is largely “powerless” and “toothless” in such matters. The court also decided to examine the ambit of the EC’s powers, asking if the poll panel is even aware of its powers to force errant political leaders to fall in line.

Just after the apex court decided to examine the EC’s powers, both Mr Adityanath and Ms Mayawati were restrained from participating in election meetings for three and two days respectively.

The two were banned from campaigning in an uncommon censure under Article 324 of the Constitution that deals with power of the EC to conduct national and Assembly elections.

The EC acted against Mr Adityanath for his “Ali” and “Bajrang Bali” remarks while addressing a rally in Meerut on April 9. Ms Mayawati courted controversy over her speech in Deoband on April 7 asking Muslims not to vote for the Congress as this could help the BJP.

Reacting to EC action against her, Mayawati said, “The ban on me will always be viewed as a blot on the EC’s history. The hurried nature of the action shows that it was taken under pressure.”

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