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Barely hours after it was chastised by the Supreme Court for for its failure to take action against hate speech during the ongoing polls, the Election Commission (EC) barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the BSP chief Mayawati from campaigning for a limited period for violating the model code of conduct (MCC).

The commission’s orders came hours after the Supreme Court gave the poll panel time till tomorrow to report on the action taken against the two prominent politicians for their controversial speeches. In separate orders, the Election Commission condemned the speeches made by the two rival leaders and censured them.

Earlier in the day, the apex court pulled up the EC for its failure to crack down on hate speech. Acting on a PIL against the increasing hate speech in poll rallies, the SC said that the poll panel was “duty-bound to take action and cannot sleep over such issues”. The SC summoned a senior EC official last Tuesday and said it would examine the scope of the poll panel’s powers after it was informed that its powers are very limited and the EC can only issue a notice, give advisory and file complaint against parties found violating model code of conduct.

Among others, Yogi had in one speech referred to the Indian Army as ‘Modi ki sena’ while in another he referred to ‘Ali-Bajrangbali’. “If you (Opposition) have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrangbali,” Adityanath said at a rally. Adityanath later said he made the apparently communal statement in retaliation to BSP chief Mayawati’s appeal to Muslim voters in Deoband where she 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.

—India Legal Bureau

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