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EC ‘censures’ Yashodhara Raje for ‘intimidating’ voters

The Election Commission said that Yashodhara Raje Scindia’s speech, even though not made in public, violated the poll code.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2018 23:10 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
02Mar2009 Election Commission of India, New Delhi Photograph by Harikrishna Katragadda/ MINT(Mint File Photo)

The Election Commission on Friday censured BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh minister Yashodhara Raje for making a speech “intimidating” voters during campaigning for bypolls in the state.

The commission had received a complaint on February 18 that she told voters at Padora village of Madhya Pradesh on February 17 that if they vote for the ‘hand symbol’, they will not get the benefits of certain government schemes.

By-polls will be held in the state for the Kolaras assembly constituency on Saturday.

Raje, in her defence, had said that the speech was made at the residence of a private person and that she was addressing party workers, thereby not violating the mode of conduct. In its order, the poll panel told the BJP leader that her speech, even though not made in public, violates the code.

“ On consideration of the part of the speech referred to in the complaint and copy of which was provided to you in CD, the Commission is satisfied that the statements therein amount to intimidation of voters in as much as there is clear element of threat to the electors that if they vote on the ‘hand’ symbol, they may be denied benefits of certain government schemes. It is admitted that you were addressing a group of people,” the poll panel said in its order.

Separately, the election commission also warned Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for violating the model code of conduct during a speech at Mungaloi on February 16. “Commission has advised you to be more careful in future while making public speeches during the period of MCC,” the poll panel said.

A by-election for the Mungaoli assembly constituency is being held on Saturday.

The poll panel also asked Madhya Pradesh minister Maya Singh to submit a reply to a complaint over a speech in Anchal. Singh has been asked to file her reply by Sunday.

The model code of conduct is enforced as soon as elections are announced. Under the rules, the government is barred from making any announcements that can impact the poll outcome in election-bound states and disturb the level playing field.

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 23:05 IST