The Election Commission has ordered the removal of Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh from the list of star campaigners of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) ahead of 8 February Delhi elections with immediate effect. The two BJP campaigners have been charged for making hate speech at their election rallies. "The Election Commission has ordered the removal of Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma from the list of star campaigners of the Bharatiya Janata Party for the general elections to the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi with immediate effect and until further orders," the official EC order said.
To understand the impact of the EC order, Firstpost spoke to a former chief election commissioner and clarified that the order does not ban Thakur and Parvesh from campaigning. "They will not get any financial concessions that star campaigners get. It is just a financial penalty," the former CEC told Firstpost requesting anonymity. The cost of a star campaigner's canvassing is not added into the expenditure limit set for each candidate; rather the expenses are considered under the net expenditure done on campaigning by a political party.
Currently, there is no cap on the amount a political party can spend in an election. But the Election Commission has put expenditure limit on candidates of around Rs 20 lakh. It is also important to note that this is the immediate action taken against the two BJP MPs. They have also been issued notice for violation of Model Code of Conduct, which will be decided in due course.
During an election rally in Delhi's Rithala, BJP leader and Union minister Thakur criticised the section of people opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, and egged on the crowd to raise an incendiary slogan — "desh ke gaddaron ko...." (traitors should be shot down) — equating anti-CAA protesters with anti-national elements.
Thakur, a Minister of State, was caught on camera at an election rally, chanting the first half of a slogan — desh ke gaddaron ko — that concludes with a call to gun down traitors. Although Thakur didn't utter the part about gunning down people, the slogan has featured before in a BJP leader's rally, and he can be seen on video egging the crowd to complete the slogan after him.
Likewise, west Delhi MP Verma also came under the Election Commission's scanner after he said that the Kashmiri Pandit exodus from Kashmir could happen in Delhi, warning that lakhs of anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh could enter people's homes to "kill and rape women".
The poll panel had taken cognisance of allegations of poll code violation against Thakur and Singh and issued the dua a show-cause notice, saying prima facie the remarks had the "potential of disturbing communal harmony".
In the show-cause notice, the EC referred to section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, dealing with attempts to promote enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language. It said the ruling BJP leader also made "certain other objectionable statements" at the meeting.
The Delhi CEO Office on Tuesday said it had submitted a report to the EC on the "provocative" language used by Thakur while canvassing for BJP candidates contesting the 8 February Delhi Assembly polls.
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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2020 14:41:44 IST