EC censures Kamal Nath, revokes ‘star campaigner’ status
The Election Commission revoked the "star campaigner" status of senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Friday for repeated violations of the model code while campaigning for bypolls in 28 Assembly constituencies in the state, criticising the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister for breach of "ethical and dignified behaviour".
In an order, the commission said, "...for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath, Ex-Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect for the current Bye-elections of Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh."
It said no permission was to be granted by authorities to Nath as a star campaigner.
"However, if any campaign is done by Kamal Nath from now onwards, the entire expenditure related to travel, stay and visit will be completely borne by the candidate in whose constituency he carries out campaigning," it said.
While the political party pays for the expenditure of a star campaigner, the candidate pays for the expenditure of other campaigners.
The EC said it has carefully considered the matter and has observed with "displeasure that Kamal Nath despite being a leader of a political party is repeatedly violating the provisions of Model Code of Conduct and breaching the ethical and dignified behaviour".
The Commission referred to his remarks against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He had used the words "mafia" and "milawat khor" against a political rival at a recent campaigning event.
Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like "item" in campaigning.
He had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.
The Congress's Madhya Pradesh unit said it would challenge the decision in court, ndtv.com reported.
Byelections are being held on November 3 to fill 28 vacant seats in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Most of these fell vacant when Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia rebelled earlier this year and defected to the BJP, taking along 22 MLAs.
Kamal Nath's Congress-led government fell and the BJP returned to power. The BJP needs to win at least eight of these seats to stay in power. If at all the Congress manages to win all 28, it can make a comeback attempt.
On the campaign trail, the Congress has been ranged against its own, with Kamal Nath lashing out at former party men who are now contesting as BJP candidates.