Published: Tue, April 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Hate speech: EC acts big; bars Mayawati, Yogi from poll campaigning

Hate speech: EC acts big; bars Mayawati, Yogi from poll campaigning

The Election Commission issued two separate orders against Adityanath and Mayawati, which came hours after the Supreme Court, on Monday, took cognisance of the "hate speeches" made by the two leaders during campaigning.

Taking note of an alleged hate speech made by Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during election campaigns, the Supreme Court asked what action had the election commission initiated against him so far. The SC, in its order, referred to the stringent provisions of the Representation of the People Act under Sections 123 (3) and 125, which if used, could see a candidate getting disqualified if he or his election agent appealed to voters in the name of religion or made any hate speech.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has summoned a representative of the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday while agreeing to examine the poll panel's contention that it has limited legal powers to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering. Both Mayawati and Adityanath were served notices from the ECI. The EC said the BSP supremo prima facie violated the Model Code of Conduct. The poll body had said it was "toothless" with regard to the action it could mete out to anyone violating the Model Code of Conduct. "The hurried nature of the action shows that it was taken under pressure".

He compared the Lok Sabha elections to a contest between "Ali", a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.

At a rally on April 9, allegedly in response to Ms. Mayawati's appeal on April 7 to Muslims to vote for the BSP-Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance, Mr. Adityanath had said that if the Congress, the SP and the BSP had faith in "Ali", "then we also have faith in Bajrangbali".

"The Commission observes that being the Chief Minister of a state, Yogi Adityanath has an added responsibility to not only uphold the basic tenets, including secularism, of the Constitution of India but also to display the same in his appearances/meetings/speeches as well", it added. However, after the EC's order she will not be able to attend the rally.

The court has also asked what action it could take against leaders in case of violation of the Model Code. But there is a clear precedent from 2014 Lok Sabha elections when BJP's Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan were barred from campaigning for the remaining duration of the election after they failed to stick to the model code of conduct.

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