Days ahead of the phase two Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday barred UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati from campaigning for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) over the “Ali and Bajrangbali” remark. While Adityanath has been banned for three days, Mayawati faces the censure for two. The ban will be active from 6 am on April 16.
Responding to the ECI order, Mayawati said, “EC has given a one-sided decision. I have been denied the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. This day will be known as a black day in the history of EC.”
Responding to a showcause notice issued by the ECI, Adityanath had said that his “Ali and Bajrang Bali” remark was in retaliation to Mayawati’s appeal to Muslim voters in Deoband. Mayawati had made an appeal to Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur and Bareilly districts during the first joint rally of the BSP-SP alliance on April 7. She had cautioned voters, “particularly Muslims”, against splitting their votes in the eight western UP seats that went to polls in the first phase on April 11.
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The Commission, in a statement, said that it found the speech made by Mayawati also to be highly provocative “with the tone and tenor of to aggravate existing difference or create mutual hatred between religious communities,” therefore violating the MCC. The Dalit leader has been barred from holding any public meeting, rallies, road shows, interviews for a period of 48 hours.
The Commission had also issued a showcause notice to Mayawati last week, asking her to explain in 24 hours why she hadn’t violated the MCC and the Representation of the People Act. Defending her appeal, Mayawati had told the EC that her message was actually meant for the “bahujan samaj”, of which Muslims are also a part.
The Model Code of Conduct states that “there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”.