EC revokes ‘star campaigner’ status of Kamal Nath over violations
The Election Commission of India (EC) on Friday revoked the “star campaigner” status of Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath for repeatedly violating the model code of conduct ahead of the bypolls to 28 assembly constituencies in the state, even as he will be allowed to conduct political rallies with conditions.
The costs of star campaigners’ rallies are borne by the party, and are not added to the election spends of the candidates for whom they campaign. The Congress has said it will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. The elections are scheduled for November 3 and the campaigning ends on November 1.
“The Commission has carefully considered the matter and has observed with displeasure that Kamal Nath, despite being a leader of a political party, is repeatedly violating the model code of conduct and breaching the ethical and dignified behaviour,” the EC order said.
“For repeated violation of the model code of conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission revokes the status of leader of political party (star campaigner) of Kamal Nath,” it added.
While Nath will still be allowed to conduct political rallies, the cost will have to be borne by the candidate of that particular assembly segment.
The poll body has taken note of the Congress leader’s speech on October 13 in which he said chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan treated the “mafia” and “milawatkhor” (adulterators) like gods. They have also taken note of another statement in which Nath referred to Chouhan as a “performer, who should go act in Mumbai”.
On Monday, the commission warned Nath against using derogatory terms, shortly after he referred to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Imarti Devi as an “item” during an election rally.
Addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 by-election in Gwalior’s Dabra town, where the BJP has fielded Devi, Nath had said the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike his opponent who was an “item”. The remark triggered an outrage with BJP leaders, led by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, staging protests against Kamal Nath.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also disapproved of Nath’s remark, saying it was “unfortunate”.
The state Congress president’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja termed EC’s Monday’s move “prejudiced”. “This is a one-sided and prejudiced action taken by the election commission at someone else’s behest. If action has been taken against our state president Kamal Nath ji then similar action should have been taken against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya too given their objectionable remarks.,” he said.
Rajya Sabha MP and Congress leader Vivek Tankha said the EC did not give a notice to Kamal Nath nor the Congress party. “We are approaching Supreme Court to intervene & save democracy,” he tweeted.
State BJP chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya welcomed the decision, saying: “We welcome Election Commission’s decision which has vindicated the stand of the Bharatiya Janata Party as to how the Congress leaders attacked the ruling party leaders and candidates with use of unparliamentary language during the campaigning. The word used by Kamal Nath ji against the BJP candidate Imrati Devi was highly objectionable and condemnable.”