EC bars SP, BSP and BJP leaders from poll campaigning

SC to examine Election Commission's action on hate speeches

Retorting to Yogi's "Ali" remarks, Mayawati said people of UP should ensure that the BJP does not "get either Ali's vote or Bajrang Bali's vote".

The Election Commission on Monday barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from a poll campaign for 72-hour long and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati for 48 hours respectively, starting 6 am on Tuesday, April 16.

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.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has summoned a representative of the Election Commission (EC) on 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 Election Commission noted that it had already advised the chief minister to be more careful about his public statements on 5 April after his controversial speech that allegedly politicised the army action.

The EC has written to chief electoral officers of all states informing them about their decision on Adityanath and Mayawati to ensure that its orders are not violated. The EC said the BSP supremo prima facie violated the Model Code of Conduct. While Ali is revered by Muslims as Prophet Mohammad's successor, Bajrang Bali is another name for Lord Hanuman.

While the BSP leader had urged the Muslim community to vote only for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance candidates, the Chief Minister had said if the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP had faith in Ali, "we have faith in Bajrangbali".

"This will be remembered as a Black Day in the history of the EC", she said at a press conference.

The apex court said then it was appropriate to examine the scope of powers of the poll panel which is also a constitutional body.

The bench made the observations while hearing a petition filed by an NRI yoga teacher based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking a direction to the Election Commission to take "strict action" against political parties if their spokespersons make remarks based on caste and religion in the media during elections. But there is a clear precedent from 2014 Lok Sabha elections when BJP's Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan were barred from campaigning for the remaining duration of the election after they failed to stick to the model code of conduct.

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