Both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party face the possibility of derecognition if either of the two is found guilty by the Election Commission of violating the model code of conduct. The two parties are facing identical charges of using "communal and caste based" material in the ongoing UP Assembly poll campaign.
The panel has invoked para 16A of the Election Symbols ( Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which prohibits communal campaign. If found guilty by the EC, BJP and the SP can either be suspended or de-recognised as political parties.
In the BJP's context, the EC notice had referred to the CD, containing inflammatory campaign material and had stated that this could "aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different castes and communities".
Mulayam had figured on the EC's radar for seeking votes from persons belonging to a particular caste and was charged by the panel with indulging in "corrupt practices by demanding votes on caste basis".
As empowered by para 16A of the Order, the EC can suspend or withdraw recognition of a recognised political party for failure to observe the model code of conduct. "If the EC is satisfied on information received by it that a recognised political party has refused or is showing defiance by its conduct, it can either suspend, subject to such terms as it may deem appropriate, or withdraw the recognition of such a party," the Order provides. The "deem appropriate" leaves some space for the EC to take measures other than suspension or derecognition. The options under this head remain undefined in the Order.
Clause 1(1) of the model code of conduct clearly specifies that no party or candidate should indulge in any activity which would aggravate differences or create hatred or cause tension between different communities. Further expanding its ambit, clause 3 comments on the conduct of the political parties. "There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes," it clearly states.
In turn, these provisions of the model code of conduct pave way for the EC to draw punitive powers from para 16A of the Election Symbols Order.