The Election Commission on Friday asked the Uttar Pradesh administration to ban all public meetings and road shows of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amit Shah and the Samajwadi Party (SP)'s Azam Khan. It also directed the state administration to lodge criminal charges against the two for "inflammatory speeches".
The commission, in a separate letter to all state and Union territory administrations, directed them to conform to the provisions of the model code of conduct. It said there were reports district and state administrations had failed to act promptly in initiating legal action against those violating the code. The panel instructed district administrations to ensure all public meetings were videographed. It said "inflammatory speeches" were being made by some leaders.
In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and director general of police on Friday evening, the commission said it had observed with "serious concern" Shah and Khan "have been making highly inflammatory speeches during the course of the current election campaign". It added statements of the two had promoted "feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities on the ground of religion".
It blamed Shah and Khan of making statements and public utterances with "deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings and religious beliefs of people". It said the speeches violated the poll panel's model code of conduct and were serious offences under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Indian Penal Code and relevant state laws.
On April 7, the commission had issued notices to Shah, asking him to explain his alleged inflammatory speeches made last week in Shamli and Bijnor. Shah had allegedly implored the electorate to take "revenge" for insults it had faced. Subsequently, the BJP disputed the authenticity of the transcript on which the commission had based its notice, and the consequent registration of a first information report against Shah.
The poll panel had issued a notice to Khan on April 9 for his comment that Muslim soldiers of the Indian Army had ensured victory in the Kargil war of 1999.