New Delhi: Hours after the Supreme Court pulled up the Election Commission for its failure to take action against hate speech during the Lok Sabha election campaign, the poll body on Monday barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati from campaigning for 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively.
The EC in its order said it was convinced that both the leaders “made highly provocative speech which has the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities”.
Taking note of the statements by Adityanath and Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Monday criticised the EC for “sleeping over the issue”. Hearing a Public Interest Litigation against the increasing hate speech in poll rallies, the Court said the poll panel was “duty-bound to take action”.
The poll body has been under the scanner for its meek response to poll code violations, especially when it let off the UP chief minister with a warning after he described the Indian Army as ‘Modi ki Sena’. The EC had asked Adityanath to be careful in future and sent him another notice when he dared the Opposition that if they “have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrangbali”. His “green virus” remark aimed at the Muslim League had also drawn flak, with opposition parties demanding action against the UP chief minister.
In his response to the notice, Adityanath said he made the statement in retaliation to Mayawati’s appeal to Muslim voters in Deoband, which was also taken note of by the EC.
Mayawati had cautioned voters, “particularly Muslims”, against splitting their votes in the eight western UP seats that went to polls in the first phase on April 11.
The order will have an impact on the election rallies of the two leaders. Mayawati was scheduled to address a joint rally in Agra on Tuesday, while Adityanath was visiting Karnataka.
The EC's order was welcomed by the Congress, with senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi saying he was "extremely happy" that his suggestion had been accepted.