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Lok Sabha elections 2019: EC cracks down on leaders as poll campaign heats up

The poll watchdog said in its notice that it “strongly condemns” the comments made by Maneka Gandhi, and warned her against repeating any such words in the future.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 30, 2019 08:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Election Commission,poll campaign,Maneka Gandhi
Security personnel make way for BJP candidate Babul Supriyo's SUV after it was allegedly attacked by the TMC supporters while he was heading towards a polling station, in Asansol on Monday.(PTI Photo)

The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued notices on Monday to two Union ministers, Giriraj Singh and Maneka Gandhi, and filed an FIR against a third, Babul Supriyo.

Singh was asked to reply to a show cause notice in the next 24 hours, after the Bihar Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) took cognisance of a video clip of Singh’s speech at Begusarai, where he is fighting to retain his seat, on April 24. In the clip, Singh is heard as purportedly saying, “..those who cannot say Vande Mataram, those who cannot worship their motherland, the nation will not forgive them. Giriraj’s father-grandfather died and were cremated in Simariya Ghat where they became one with the soil. And, you need three arm-lengths of land.”

The EC also issued a notice to Gandhi, days after it barred the women and child development minister from campaigning for 48 hours, for allegedly threatening Muslims of consequences if they did not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The poll watchdog said in its notice that it “strongly condemns” the comments made by her, and warned her against repeating any such words in the future. The EC also said that it directed an FIR to be registered against Supriyo “for allegedly trespassing into booth number 199 and threatening a polling agent and an officer.”

The state CEO said around 9:15 am, Supriyo went to booth no 199 in Asansol, where he is the sitting MP, with his security guards complaining that his agent was not allowed in. An FIR was earlier filed against Supriyo for playing a theme song banned by the EC.

“When the in-charge of the booth CRPF officer protested the entry of the security guards inside the booth, he pushed him physically and entered the booth along with his security guards,” read the report.

EC officials said that some Trinamool Congress supporters saw the commotion and allegedly threw a stone at Supriyo’s car, breaking his windshield. Another FIR has been filed against unknown people for this.

An FIR was later filed against him under sections 125 (Promoting enmity between classes in connection with election) and 123A (corrupt practices) of the Representation of the People Act, as well as several sections of the Indian Penal Code. Singh, Gandhi or Supriyo were not available for comment.

The notices came on a day the Trinamool Congress and BJP approached the EC to complain about alleged violations by each other. The Trinamool complained about BJP candidates allegedly breaking the Model Code of Conduct and about the saffron party indulging in horse trading, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 40 lawmakers of the regional party were in touch with him. The BJP, on the other hand, went to the EC to demand deployment of additional security personnel in West Bengal due to poll-related violence.

A BJP delegation, including Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Vijay Goel and Anil Baluni, went to meet the Chief Election Commissioner over poll-related violence in West Bengal.

“Workers of the Trinamool Congress have now hijacked democracy and are indulging in violence. They have the support of the local machinery. We demand the deployment of more central forces in the state,” Naqvi told reporters.

The TMC said the central forces and the BJP were acting in connivance to stop “free and fair elections”. “The central forces, in a motivated and pre-conceived manner, have resorted to firing within the polling booth thereby creating a fear in the mind of the voters so that they are restrained from casting their votes. At Muraroi, Birbhum, the Central Forces are once again entering inside the polling booths where actual voting is taking place and obstructing the voters from casting their vote,” the TMC’s memorandum read.

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 01:19 IST