The Election Commission on Sunday condemned and censured BJP candidate Varun Gandhi, 29, for a hate speech delivered in Pilibhit, UP, on March 7 and found no merit in his contention that the tapes of this speech were doctored.
The EC conceded its inability to debar a person from contesting elections but recommended that the BJP not field Gandhi as a candidate. It also directed the UP government to expedite its investigation.
<b1>Gandhi did not comment but sources close to him said “it is a mere censure”. While Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan said, “The BJP should adhere to the EC’s recommendation on moral grounds,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the party would respond after scrutinising the order. He wanted to know under which rule the EC had advised the BJP not to field Gandhi as a candidate.
The EC noted that it could not “impose disqualification” on Gandhi unless he were convicted or held guilty by a court of law.
The EC order said Gandhi neither specifically accepted nor rejected the contents of the two speeches. The EC said the onus of proving that the tapes were doctored now lay with Gandhi.