The Election Commission of India on Monday said Union minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar had prima facie violated the poll code by making an alleged bogus voting remark on Sunday.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar makes a point during a function in Mumbai. PTI
The poll panel asked the Union minister to explain his statement by 5pm on Thursday failing which it would take a decision without further reference to him.
Pawar suggested on Sunday that Mathadi workers (head-loaders) vote twice this Lok Sabha elections. Opposition parties later accused him of encouraging bogus voting.
Pawar, however, claimed he had made the remark in jest and would offer his explanation to the EC on Monday. "I have not advised or suggested that they vote twice. I told them that everyone must vote. My statement has been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion," he said.
Read: Pawar asks party workers to vote twice in LS polls
The NCP chief made the controversial statement while addressing a gathering at the APMC market in Navi Mumbai. Referring to the multi-phase polling in Maharashtra, Pawar told Mathadi workers: "Last time [in 2009], polling in Satara and Mumbai was on the same day and people went to their hometowns. But this time polling in Satara is on April 17 and here [Mumbai / Navi Mumbai] on April 24," Pawar said. "Vote for the clock [NCP's symbol] there and come back to vote for the clock here as well," he said to loud laughs.
Most of these workers hail from Satara district, from where an NCP candidate will be contesting.
Read: CM responsible for what happens in state: Pawar
Pawar told the crowd to take necessary precautions before voting again. "Do erase the ink mark which will be put when you vote the first time."
Reacting to the Pawar’s statement, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde said he should be taken to task by election authorities. The Republican Party of India (A) also criticised Pawar and demanded that the EC take action.