Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday hit out at the Election Commission (EC) for not taking action on time against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, SP leader Azam Khan, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and BSP supremo Mayawati over their provocative speeches in their respective election rallies.
The EC had, on Monday, barred Adityanath and Khan from election campaigning for 72 hours for violating the model code of conduct (MCC). Mayawati and Gandhi were ordered not to campaign for 48 hours for the same offence.
"Action should be taken against those who cannot control their mouths. But, the action taken (by EC) was late. If the EC would have taken cognisance earlier, then they would have got a good name. EC reacted only after the Supreme Court asked them to take action. This is not good."
Underlining that EC's objective is to ensure free and fair polling, Kharge batted for a timely response by the top electoral body on those who were allegedly violating the MCC by making provocative comments.
"It is the duty of the EC to ensure free and fair elections in the country. There is a need to stop those who are violating the MCC," he said.
A day after it pulled up the EC for not acting against leaders for hate speeches, the Supreme Court today took note of the poll panel's action against the four leaders belonging to different political parties for violating the poll code, saying "it seems EC has woken up to its power".
The Bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, observed that no further order was required after EC's action and asked the petitioner to mention the case in future if required.
The court also refused to consider Mayawati's plea against EC's ban to address public rallies for 48 hours.
The top court was hearing a PIL filed by NRI Harpreet Mansukhani seeking strict action against leaders for making comments on religion and caste and expressed serious displeasure after the EC conveyed that it had limited power to act against leaders like Mayawati and Adityanath, who made statements along religious lines.
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