EC questions BJP on campaign CD
The Commission issues notice to the party for an inflammatory CD released during its campaign in UP, reports Anil Anand.Updated: Apr 05, 2007, 22:11 IST
The release of a controversial CD, containing "inflammatory" campaign material, by the BJP for UP Assembly poll took a serious turn with Election Commission serving a show-cause notice to the party. The EC asked the BJP to explain by Friday 5 pm why it should not be de-recognised and its symbol frozen for circulating the CD.
The UP chief electoral officer was also directed to register FIRs against the party leaders connected with the CD’s release and manufacture.
In its two-page order, the EC drew BJP president Rajnath Singh’s attention to the CD’s contents which it felt were derogatory to the sentiments of certain community. This, the order, said could "aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different castes and communities” since the CD contained an appeal arousing caste and communal feelings for securing votes. The CD was released by the BJP leader Lalji Tandon in Lucknow on Tuesday.
The EC invoked provisions of para 16 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 that bar communalised campaign. If found guilty by the EC, it could result in either suspension or de-recognition of the BJP as a political party.
Notwithstanding the BJP pleading ignorance about the CD’s contents and subsequently its hurried withdrawal, the EC order also pointed out that such an action amount to violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Para iii of the Code says: "There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election.”
The EC asked the chief electoral office of UP to furnish a compliance report by Friday 6 pm that he has filed FIRs against ajnath Singh, Tandon and all those behind the CD’s production, its release, distribution and display.
Smarting under the EC action, the BJP appeared to fall in line, saying that the CD would never be released in UP. “This CD was never shown and will never be released . We will respond to the EC in an appropriate manner,” UP BJP chief Keshri Nath Tripathi said in Lucknow. BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said here that the EC had a right to get more information about a specific case.
But former Prime Minister VP Singh was not willing to let the BJP off the hook so lightly. He met Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami to seek derecognition of the BJP. He complained to him that contents of the CD have “vitiated” the atmosphere in the poll-bound state. “ The poison has already spread. All the senior BJP leaders have not only seen but approved the CD. It is a shame that they are now denying it," Singh said.