EC expresses ’strong displeasure’ at replies of Lalu, others (Lead)

April 13th, 2009 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Uddhav Thackeray New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The Election Commission Monday said the replies filed by Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray to the panel’s notices on poll code violation were not satisfactory.
“The Election Commission did not find the reply satisfactory and has conveyed its strong displeasure,” Deputy Election Commissioner R. Balakrishnan told reporters here.

On April 9, the poll panel had issued notices to Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi for poll code violations and asked them to send their replies by April 11.

Lalu Prasad is in the dock for his remarks at an election rally April 6, that had he been the home minister “he would have run a roller over Varun Gandhi”.

Lalu Prasad’s remarks created a furore and the police issued an arrest order against him. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi is in a jail in Uttar Pradesh for his reported inflammatory speeches in Pilibhit district.

Asked why like in the case of Varun the commission is not issuing an advisory to the RJD not to field Lalu Prasad in the elections, the commission said the gravity of the two statements was different.

Balakrishnan said the commission told Lalu Prasad that “as a senior leader he should not have used such language”. “You have to see the gravity of the statement,” Balakrishnan said.

While Varun threatened the “entire community,” the RJD leader’s statement was against a person.

Rabri Devi was served a notice for her alleged derogatory remarks against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and state Janata Dal-United chief Rajiv Ranjan at Saran.

Balakrishnan said the commission has rejected the contentions made by Thackeray, who at an election rally in Mumbai March 20, had referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a derogatory manner.

He said the poll panel, which directed the Maharashtra chief electoral officer to do the video coverage of the Shiv Sena leader’s election campaign, also directed that a track be kept of the case filed against Thackeray in this context.

The Election Commission advised Home Minister P. Chidambaram to avoid making statements that could be misinterpreted.

The commission considered the replies by Chidambaram and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and told them to avoid statements that could be misinterpreted, Balakrishnan said.

The Election Commission issued a notice to Chidambaram and Gehlot on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which accused them of offering poll sops in Rajasthan during a security review meeting last month.

Balakrishnan said the commission has asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to file a detailed report on the death of Indian Justice Party’s (IJP) Lok Sabha candidate Bahadur Sonkar in Uttar Pradesh.

Dalit leader Sonkar, who was contesting against BSP’s Dhananjay Singh, a mafia don turned politician, was found hanging near Raja Ka Talab, barely 500 metres from his home in Ahiyapur-Rasheedabad locality, 200 km from Lucknow.

The commission said it has taken steps to create a conducive environment in violence-hit Kandhamal district in Orissa.

The Election Commission said the model code of conduct is a very important mechanism in conducting elections, and it is not a law.

“Model code provision is a unique provision. It is a kind of mechanism. It is not a law,” Balakrishnan said.

When asked about the reasoning behind only expressing displeasure to those who violate the model code of conduct, Balakrishnan said the commission could express only its displeasure and it would be a kind of “societal pressure” on the violators.

“The commission can express only its displeasure. It is a kind of societal pressure. It is far more important in conducting elections,” he told reporters.

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