THE ELECTION Commission (EC) on Monday issued a showcause notice to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for allegedly abetting bribing of voters with his remarks at a rally held in Bhadohi on March 4. He has been asked to present his defence by Tuesday evening. Addressing the rally, Akhilesh had said, “Apparently, a lot of money is being distributed among voters… Keep the money but remember the cycle.” The cycle is the Samajwadi Party’s election symbol. The alleged violation was brought to EC’s notice by UP’s Chief Electoral Officer.
The poll panel has objected to the above statement on the ground that it violates sub-para (4) of Para (1) of the Model Code of Conduct, which states that political parties and candidates shall scrupulously avoid all activities which are ‘corrupt practices’ and electoral offence under the election law, such as bribing of voters. The EC, in its notice, also went on to point out that bribing or abetment to bribery of electors is an offence under Section 171 E of IPC and also a corrupt practice under Section 123 (1) of RP Act 1951.
The poll panel has said that if Akhilesh fails to submit his explanation by 5 pm on March 7, it will take a decision in the matter without any further reference to him.
This election season, the EC has already pulled up Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for encouraging voters to accept bribe from rivals but vote for BJP and AAP, respectively.
While Parrikar got away with censure, the notice to Kejriwal triggered a controversy, with the latter challenging EC’s authority and accused it of taking directions from the Prime Minister’s Office.