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Election Commission bans Azam Khan and Amit Shah’s rallies in Uttar Pradesh

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New Delhi – The Election Commission has banned BJP leader Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party’s senior minister Azam Khan from addressing public meetings and rallies in Uttar Pradesh. Both parties have sought a review of the decision.

In a letter to the UP Chief Secretary, the Election Commission has also ordered that First Information Reports (FIRs) be registered against the two politicians for making “highly inflammatory speeches” while campaigning for the general elections in the state.

It said, “no permission should be granted for holding any 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.”

Election Commission sources that the panel felt that a “long rope” had been given to these leaders and it was time now to take strict action.

In a second letter it has asked chief electoral officers in all states to ensure that “prompt legal action” is taken by the state administration when political leaders, including “star campaigners” make “inflammatory and provocative speeches.” It has set for them an eight-point guideline on how to act in such cases.

In its letter to the UP, the poll panel has criticised the Akhilesh Yadav government for “soft pedalling” on action against its minister Azam Khan for what it has described as his “undesirable activities”.

Mr Khan alleged that he faces a ban and criminal charges as the Election Commission “had to strike a balance as they were anyway proceeding against Amit Shah.”

The UP government has filed FIRs against Amit Shah, a close aide of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, for talking about “revenge” for the communal violence that tore through Muzaffarnagar last year. Mr Shah delivered the controversial speeches in Bijnor and Shamli, in the riot-scarred western UP region. The Election Commission has already issued a notice to the BJP leader.

The BJP said without even awaiting the response to the notice, such a punitive order has been issued, which is a “monstrosity of judgement”. “The Election Commission has carried out a communal balancing act,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

“I will give my explanation to the Election Commission and request it to review its decision, added Mr Shah.

Azam Khan too has made several provocative speeches recently, including one in Ghaziabad on Tuesday when he said that the Kargil war was won by Muslim soldiers. The panel said despite a notice sent to him, he is “still indulging in the violation of model code of conduct and statutory laws, and making derogatory and inflammatory statements, using intemperate language as well.”

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