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Hate speech: EC finally acts

Hate speech: EC finally acts

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 10, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/168618/Hate-speech-EC-finally-acts.html

Issues notice to Lalu, Rabri, Srinivas

Under pressure to not only be impartial but also appear to be so, the Election Commission on Thursday issued notices to two senior RJD leaders - Union Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi - as well as Andhra Pradesh Congress chief D Srinivas for allegedly violating the election code of conduct. The Commission also served notice on Uddhav Thackeray for his 'hate' remarks on the Prime Minister.

The EC was under public scanner after it took the unprecedented step of advising the BJP to drop Varun Gandhi as its candidate for a 'hate speech,' with the BJP accusing the Commission of acting in a partisan manner.

The Commission, after considering the CDs containing the hate speech by Lalu promising to run a "roller" over the BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Varun, for supposedly making anti-Muslim remarks, decided to issue the notice to the Bihar strongman. Though Lalu offered an explanation that his remark was misinterpreted, since he was referring to a 'roller of law,' the Commission seemed unimpressed. But it took the EC nearly three days after the alleged hate remarks were made at a rally in Kishanganj, to issue the notice (Bihar).

Besides the Commission notice, Lalu is facing a criminal charge as the district administration had lodged an FIR against the RJD chief on direction from the Commission. Another complaint by BJP MP Maneka Gandhi is pending with Bihar Police, where she has said that the statement amounted to insult and criminal intimidation and a threat to kill her son.

Moments after the Commission dispatched notice to the leaders in question, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, speaking from Patna said, "We have submitted a formal letter of complaint to the EC on Lalu's comment. It's now for the EC to take a right decision in the matter as it is a testing time for the EC to show its fairness."

Informing about the notices also being issued to Rabri Devi, Srinivas and Uddhav, Deputy Election Commissioner JP Prakash, while addressing the media said that all the leaders have been given time till April 11 to reply.

Rabri, who is also the leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly, got the notice for allegedly making insulting personal remarks against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The police have filed FIRs against Rabri in this regard.

The Andhra Pradesh Congress chief was slapped a notice for allegedly stating he would "sever the hands of those who point a finger at minorities."

The poll panel issued notice to the junior Thackeray for his alleged derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a poll rally.

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