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Condemn anti-Muslim CD publicly, Election Commission orders BJP

May 1O, 2007

The Election Commission has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to condemn publicly and strongly a CD which denigrates Muslims and was allegedly meant for campaigning in the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, which concluded on May 8, 2007.

The Commission reserved its right to decide on the demand to derecognise the BJP on the controversial and inflammatory CD.

The BJP had claimed that the CD, which was released by party leader Lalji Tandon on April 4, 2007, in Lucknow, was not part of its official campaign material and was prepared by a junior functionary. The Election Commission rejected this argument, saying that the BJP cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of its functionaries.

The Commission, in a 21-page order, said the statements of BJP leaders L K Advani, Kalyan Singh and Tandon’s had “created a doubt, a genuine doubt, in the minds of the general public whether the BJP has disowned the CD and condemned its contents or stood by its comments.”

“The party,” the Election Commission added, “should come out with an unequivocal and unambiguous declaration that they strongly condemn the contents of the CD so that the stand of the party before the Commission becomes publicly known to the country and public at large and any misgivings or apprehensions in their minds arising out of the distribution and dissemination of the CD or its contents stand dispelled and removed forthwith.”

The Commission, which is hearing petitions seeking to derecognise the BJP for the CD incident, said it reserved the right to take action against the party after the Uttar Pradesh police finished investigating whether BJP leaders were involved in the production and distribution of the CD.

The BJP, the Election Commission ordered, must condemn the CD “urgently” and give it wide publicity in the print and the electronic media nationally and in Uttar Pradesh.

The Commission, which also asked the BJP to file a compliance report with 15 days, said: “The Election Commission would, however, like to make it clear to all concerned in the matter that the matter is not being closed by the Commission with the present order.”

The BJP had told the Commission that the CD was the “misadventure” of a junior party functionary and that action against the party could be taken only if the party had done any wrong.




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