New Delhi: The Election Commission has held two Congress MPs and the party candidate from Andhra Pradesh`s Ghanpur Assembly seat guilty of violating the model code of conduct by addressing election meetings inside a church during bypolls in the state.
The Commission, in its order, reprimanded the two Congress MPs, Balaram Naik and Rajaiah Siricilla, and the party`s nominee from Ghanpur seat Rajarapu Prathap for violation of the model code and has issued a mild warning to them.
The EC has also directed Prathap to comply with the directions of the Returning Officer to account for the expenses made in arranging the political rally in the church during filing of nomination.
Naik, Siricilla and Prathap were found addressing a meeting of party workers at Ghanpur church.
The Commission had earlier served a notice to them on March 12, asking them to explain why action should not be taken against them for alleged violation of the model code, for which they replied on March 13, claiming they had gone to the church to seek blessings and not to campaign.
However, the Commission cited Para I of the Model Code of Conduct, which states that "Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda", and held the three guilty of violating the Code.
The EC based its order on the report of the District Election Officer and a video tape of the proceedings at Ghanpur church.
The Commission found that a speech of political nature was made in the church and all three leaders and party workers were seen sporting party scarves, caps and flags.