NEW DELHI: Taking strong note of complaints against Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and BSP leader Mayawati, the Election Commission on Thursday issued notices to both the leaders over their respective remarks, seen to be communally loaded, made during campaign speeches.

While Yogi had, during a speech at Meerut on April 9, stated that if “Congress, SP and BSP have faith in Ali, we too have faith in Bajrangbali”, Mayawati, in a speech at Deoband, Saharanpur on April 7, made a specific appeal to Muslims, asking them not to allow a division of their votes.

Holding Yogi prima facie guilty of violating the model code of conduct, the commission asked him to explain his allegedly communal remarks by Friday evening. Similarly, it asked Mayawati to give an explanation by Friday on why she should not face action for violating the poll code as well as Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which bars candidates from asking people to vote for or refrain from voting on grounds of religion.

Sources in the commission indicated that as Yogi Adityanath has been served with a second notice, even as the first one resulted in the EC advising him to be more careful with his public utterances in the future, it may be take a sterner stand, particularly if their is another infraction. Last time, he was hauled up for his remark “Modi ji ki sena” while referring to the air strikes on Balakot in Pakistan.

The EC is understood to be in the process of examining the speech of PM Narendra Modi at Latur in Maharashtra where he sought the vote of first time voters for defence forces, referring to action against terror camps in Pakistan. Repeated violation of the poll code may invite a tough warning or even a temporary ban on campaigning.

An official indicated that the commission is considering adopting a stern view on appeals for votes along communal lines in the light of the Supreme Court order banning such appeals, and may go for a higher level of reprimand and punishment to repeat offenders. Thus, Mayawati too may face the EC action if the model code of conduct (MCC) violation is confirmed.

It be recalled that the commission had in the past barred repeat violators of the MCC from campaigning. The list includes BJP president Amit Shah and Azam Khan, who were barred form addressing public meetings during the last UP assembly polls, as well as BJP leader Giriraj Singh, who was directed not to campaign in Bihar and Jharkhand during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
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