Mulayam admits mistake, not bribe, as poll panel issues notice (Lead)

March 12th, 2009 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) The Election Commission Thursday slapped a notice on Mulayam Singh Yadav after his activists were filmed distributing money to potential voters even as the Samajwadi Party chief admitted it was a “mistake” though not a bribe.
Hours after the poll panel pulled him up for violating the model code of conduct for the April-May Lok Sabha elections, Mulayam Singh told reporters in Lucknow: “Yeh such hai ke bhul hui (it’s correct, it was a mistake).”

But he added that “every year he gave gifts to people on Holi. It’s a tradition, part of Holi celebrations” and not an attempt to bribe anyone. He said he was ready for any “investigation”.

Asking him to explain why he violated the model code of conduct, which came into force March 2 when the elections were announced, the poll panel asked Mulayam Singh to reply by March 14. The commission will take action if the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister fails to answer by that day, the panel said.

The commission took cognizance of reports in television channels showing Mulayam Singh holding a public gathering at his Saifai village in Etawah district Wednesday. He is expected to contest the Lok Sabha election from the neighbouring district of Mainpuri.

According to the footage, Mulayam Singh’s supporters distributed Rs.100 currency notes among a large number of people at the gathering, in his presence.

“It is apparent that the distribution of money in your presence has been made with a view to soliciting votes and support for yourself and your party,” the statement said.

The model code of conduct provides that all parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are ‘corrupt practices’.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh also tried to play down the incident. He told reporters: “Yes, I gave the money at Bareilly dargah as part of Holi traditions. Let someone get an Election Commission notice to me.”

“Should we stop celebrating Holi now? Like elders give money to family members on festivals, we also gave it,” he asserted.

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