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EC serves notice to Kamal Nath over ‘item’ jibe, seeks response within 48 hours

While campaigning for the Congress candidate for the upcoming bypolls in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath had referred to Imarti Devi, who is a Cabinet minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, as an “item”.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 21, 2020 7:26:13 pm
Congress will return to power in MP after assembly bypolls: Kamal NathKamal Nath said the Congress will return to power in the state after the counting of bypoll votes on November 10. (File photo)

The Election Commission issued a notice to former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by referring to BJP leader Imarti Devi as an “item” while campaigning for the state bypolls last week.

While campaigning for Congress candidate Suresh Raje in Dabra, one of the 28 Assembly seats in the state where bypolls will be held on November 3, Nath had referred to Imarti Devi, who is a Cabinet minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, as an “item”. The EC has given him 48 hours to explain himself.

“Ye unke jaise nahi hai… kya hai uska naam” (He is not like her, what is her name),” Nath asked the crowd which responded by saying BJP candidate Imarti Devi’s name. “You know her better than I do, you people should have warned me beforehand… ye kya item hai… kya item hai,” said Nath.

Devi, state cabinet minister for Women and Child Development, was one of the 22 MLAs who resigned in March, bringing down the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh. She subsequently joined the BJP and is now a party candidate for the bypoll in Dabra, a seat reserved for SC candidates.

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On Monday, the Election Commission had sought a “detailed report” from the chief electoral officer of Madhya Pradesh on the matter. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has also sought an explanation from Nath over his remarks.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday disapproved of his party colleague, saying he did not appreciate the use of such language and that it was “unfortunate”. Nath, however, stuck to his guns and, in fact, said Gandhi’s remarks were “his views”.

Clarifying his stand on the remarks made, the former chief minister said that word he used had “multiple interpretations” and accused Chouhan of politicising the issue to gain mileage ahead of state bypolls.

In a separate incident, a BJP minister in Madhya Pradesh is also facing flak for allegedly using a derogatory term for the wife of a Congress candidate. In a video that went viral on Monday, minister Bisahulal Singh, who is contesting the November 3 Assembly bypoll from Anuppur, was purportedly heard describing the second wife of Congress candidate Vishwanath Singh Kunjam as “mistress”.

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