EC orders video tracking of Varun Gandhi, serves notice on him, BJP (Lead)

March 18th, 2009 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Lucknow, March 18 (IANS) The Election Commission Wednesday directed that all rallies of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi be video tracked and also served notices on him and the BJP over the alleged hate speeches made by the Gandhi scion.
The poll panel served notice to Varun Gandhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Ramapati Ram Tripathi to explain why they “disregarded and violated the provisions of the model code of conduct”.

The commission said if they fail to answer by March 20, further action would be taken against them.

It also ordered the immediate removal of the district magistrate and district police chief of Pilibhit and sought suspension of two other officials.

“The EC has ordered video tracking of all visits, speeches, rallies of Varun Gandhi. In its communication sent to chief electoral officer of UP today, the Election Commission has directed that such steps be initiated by the district election officer (DEO) concerned,” said a poll panel statement issued here.

“It is further directed that DEOs should keep a close track of all programmes of Varun Gandhi and whenever and wherever public meetings and rallies or speeches are held by him (they) should be video tracked properly.”

It also said that the cameraperson should be accompanied by an official, who is a magistrate, and he should be provided adequate security. It said the recordings should be scrutinized by the returning officer concerned.

Varun, the 29-year-old son of five-time Pilibhit MP Maneka Gandhi, was Sunday issued a notice by the district authorities.

The young Gandhi has created a storm by adopting a fanatical pro-Hindu stance in his speeches, which have left the BJP embarrassed.

On Tuesday, the Election Commission directed the Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer to file a criminal case against Gandhi after the Congress lodged a protest with the poll panel over his alleged speeches.

The poll panel said they received a report of the Pilibhit district election officer on March 17 stating that Varun Gandhi has violated the model code of conduct by inciting communal feelings through his speeches made at public gatherings in Mohalla Dalchand, Kotwali Pilibhit and at Kasba Barkheda on March 7 and 8. They also enclosed the CD of the speech.

“The Commission is of the opinion that the above action on your part amounts to violation of provisions of the model code of conduct. Therefore, you are hereby called upon to explain by 1100 hours on 20th March as to why action should not be taken against you,” the notice sent to Varun Gandhi said.

“If no reply is received within the prescribed time limit, it will be presumed that you have nothing to say and the Commission will proceed to take appropriate action without making any further reference to you,” it added.

The poll panel said the model code of conduct states that no party or candidate should indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.

It also said that the guidelines state that no one should appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. “Mosques, churches, temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda.”

The poll panel has ordered immediate removal of the Pilibhit District Magistrate Mahendra Agrawal and district police chief R.K. Chaturvedi.

The commission further recommended the suspension of Additional District Magistrate S.S. Kamal and Assistant Superintendent of Police Saurabh Kush.

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