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EC gag on Modi aide over ‘revenge’ call

Amit Shah

New Delhi, April 11: The Election Commission today banned Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party minister Azam Khan from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh because of their “highly inflammatory” speeches, and ordered FIRs filed and criminal proceedings started against them.

It rapped the state government for failing to show the “required alacrity” and file FIRs against the duo whose statements, it said, were promoting religious “enmity” and “hatred”.

Lucknow has been asked to send a compliance report by 5pm tomorrow.

On April 3, Shah, the BJP’s campaign in-charge in the state, had allegedly exhorted Jats in Muzaffarnagar to use the elections as an opportunity to seek “revenge” for last September’s riots that killed some 60 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

Azam, a cabinet minister in Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi government in Uttar Pradesh, had said the Kargil war was won by “Muslim soldiers”. He had also termed Shah a “goonda” (thug).

A poll panel statement told state authorities: “No permission should be granted for holding public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows, etc, by the district administration authorities, where the above two leaders are expected or likely to participate.”

It highlighted Lucknow’s failure to act against its minister. “No FIR seems to have been filed against Azam Khan so far and the commission is of the view that the state government machinery is soft-pedalling in taking required action against him,” the poll panel said.

It said “necessary FIRs should immediately be filed and criminal proceedings initiated”.

Shah’s and Azam’s statements “are being made with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings and religious beliefs of different classes of citizens of India”, the notice to the Uttar Pradesh government said.

It said the duo’s speeches were “promoting feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will and creating disharmony between different religious communities on the ground of religion” and were “likely to disturb peace and public tranquillity”.

Sources said the commission had issued notices to the two politicians after their speeches but they had not replied yet.

The commission noted that despite the notices, Azam continued to violate the model code of conduct and said that it had decided to issue a further show-cause notice to the Samajwadi leader.

Shah, the BJP’s minder for the heartland state, had told a rally: “It’s a question of western Uttar Pradesh’s dignity. The time has come to take revenge…. Press the button during the elections and take revenge.”

The BJP continued defending Shah, saying he had not violated the model code of conduct. Senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad described the commission’s order on Shah as “disturbing” and sought its review while at the same time terming the poll panel’s “grievance” against Azam Khan “well-founded”.