Opposition wants Khurshid sacked after EC writes to President

The EC on Saturday complained to President Pratibha Patil over Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s defiant stand on quota for backward Muslims.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Opposition is gunning for Salman Khurshid’s head after the Election Commission on Saturday complained to President Pratibha Patil over the Law Minister’s defiant stand on quota for backward Muslims in Uttar Pradesh despite being censured.

Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi wrote a strongly-worded letter to the President, seeking "immediate and decisive intervention" following Khurshid’s defiant stand on Muslim quota.

The President forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister`s Office for "appropriate action".

Within hours of the development, the BJP demanded Khurshid be sacked.

BJP`s NDA ally JD (U) demanded that Khurshid be banned
from Uttar Pradesh while CPI(M) disapproved of his "defiant
stance" saying "people occupying responsible positions must
not talk and behave irresponsibly".

BJP leader LK Advani alleged that the minister was
making a "mockery" of model code of conduct.

"The PM should sack Khurshid for making comments on EC.
No minister had ever made comments against the EC in such a
way. After being censured by the Commission, the minister is
making mockery of model code of conduct," Advani said, while
addressing an election meeting in Bhadohi today.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley alleged
that there was a well "scripted conspiracy" on the part of
Congress to communalise the UP assembly elections.

"I have reason to believe it`s a part of scripted
conspiracy by Congress to communalise the UP elections...the
more it`s done...you might save yourself from the utter
disgrace," Jaitely alleged while talking to the reporters in

"But the Congress must realise that everyone has a vote,
and the reaction to what Congress is doing could be counter
productive," he added.

He said that step taken by the EC yesterday was
"unprecedented" which had never happened in the country

"The attitude of Union Law Minister after receiving EC
order was that of defiance. Saying that whether EC hangs him,
he would make announcements. This lawlessness of the minister
has no place in country`s democracy," he said.

He alleged that now a script of unnecessary conflict
with the EC was being drawn.

"Is it an adamancy of one person or a well thought
conspiracy of Congress party," Jaitely questioned.

With the poll panel at present supervising seven-phased elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Quraishi said the minister`s fresh remarks have "created a disturbing situation".

"The commission is perturbed because the undermining of its constitutionally-mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has a direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the ECI rather than to denigrate it," Quraishi said in his letter.

"The Commission is quite concerned that the delicate balance of functions between constitutional authorities has come under a strain, because of the minister`s improper and unlawful action," it added.

Quraishi, whose letter to the President was marked "top most priority" and sent through a special messenger, said television media had reported on Saturday about Khurshid making statements to the effect that he would pursue the line of his earlier announcement irrespective of whatever the Commission directs.

"In fact, the Union minister goes on to say that he would stick to his line, `even if they hang me`. We have found the tone and tenor of the Union minister dismissive and utterly contemptuous about the Commission`s lawful direction to him, besides the fact that his action is damaging the level playing field in the election," the letter said.

"The commission is shocked that instead of being remorseful about the violation of the Model Code, that carries the consensus of all political parties and the sanction of the Supreme Court, the minister has chosen to be defiant and aggressive. This is unprecedented."

Official sources said that the President "had seen" the letter before sending it to the PMO for "appropriate action".

Khurshid triggered a fresh controversy on Friday evening with his remarks that he will ensure rights to "pasmanda (backward Muslims)" even if he is "hanged" by the poll panel.

The poll panel had censured Khurshid over his promise to give nine percent quota to minorities, including backward Muslims, within 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) if the Congress is voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, saying it was violation of model code of conduct.

(With IANS inputs)