ECI temporarily bars Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati from campaigning

Experts say Modi's re-election bid has received huge financial backing from corporate India. — AFP  File

Experts say Modi's re-election bid has received huge financial backing from corporate India. — AFP File

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.

By a separate order, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati has been barred from carrying out campaign work for a 48-hour period starting 6 am on April 16.

The tongue-lashing by the top court sent the poll panel into a hyperactive mode as it banned both the Uttar Pradesh leaders from campaigning for three and two days respectively within minutes of the court hearing.

Mayawati appealed to the Muslims community to back the grand alliance candidate in Deoband, during a joint rally on April 7.

Retorting to Yogi's "Ali" remarks, Mayawati said people of UP should ensure that the BJP does not "get either Ali's vote or Bajrang Bali's vote".

Within a couple of hours, the poll body - which earlier issued notices to Yogi Adiyanath and Mayawati - ordered a ban, invoking special powers under Article 324 of the Constitution. The court also chose to examine the ambit of the EC's powers, asking if the poll panel is even aware of its powers to force errant political leaders to fall in line. Dissatisfied with the EC counsel's response and the unusually soft approach taken by the commission against errant politicians, the bench said, "We would like to examine the matter". Ali is a revered figure in Islam and Hanuman is often called 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.

The order said, the EC is convinced that Adityanath made a "highly provocative" speech which had the "tone and tenor" to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between religious communities.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also summoned an EC representative for 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. 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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