Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati censured, barred from campaigning for 72, 48 hours respectively

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The saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party, had been warned this month about his campaign speeches, the election commission said.

The Election Commission on Monday barred BSP chief Mayawati and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections for 48 and 72 hours respectively.

The poll body had issued a notice to Yogi Adityanath over his recent "Bajrang Bali and Ali" remarks while addressing an election rally in Meerut, whereas Mayawati was issued one over her appeal to Muslims to not "divide votes by voting for Congress" remarks at the Deoband rally. The ban will come into effect from April 15, 6 AM.

The two have also been "censured".

In reply to the SC's notice seeking the EC's response on a PIL by Harpreet Mansukhani seeking strict action against those who use caste, religion and hate speech during campaigning, the poll panel through counsel Amit Sharma told SC, "Power of EC in cases of violation of the model code of conduct by making hate speeches on grounds of religion & caste is circumscribed to issuing notice and upon consideration of the reply to issue advisories".

Just after the apex court chose to examine the EC's powers, both Mr Adityanath and Ms Mayawati were restrained from participating in election meetings for three and two days respectively.

"The Election Commission says it is toothless", the bench said, adding that it would examine the aspect relating to the poll panel's power to deal with hate speeches during poll campaign. "The explanation shall be submitted within 24 hours of the receipt of the notice, failing which the commission shall take a decision without further reference", Principal Secretary, Election Commission, Anuj Jaipuriar had said. "The hurried nature of the action shows that it was taken under pressure".

CM Adityanath had compared the Lok Sabha election to a contest between "Ali", a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.

The Commission said that it was convinced that both leaders had made "highly provocative" speeches which had the tone and tenor to "aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities".

Khan was banned for three days, while Gandhi was banned for two days.

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