New Delhi: In what can be seen to be an embarrassment for the Congress party, the Election Commission on Thursday censured Law Minister Salman Khurshid for his remarks on sub-quota on minorities. The EC said that Khurshid violated the model code of conduct by making promise of 9 percent sub-quota for minorities.
In a terse message EC also said that it hoped that the Law Minister would not to repeat such violations of model code in future.
The Election Commission - comprising Chief Election
Commissioner SY Quraishi and Election Commissioners VS
Sampath and HS Brahma, in its 15-page order, held that
Khurshid had violated the model code of conduct.
"The Commission hereby censures Shri Salman Khurshid and
hopes and expects that such violations of the model code of
conduct would not be repeated by him in future," said the EC
It said "Salman Khurshid has violated the model code of
conduct by making the abovesaid promise. The Commission,
therefore, cannot help expressing its deep anguish and
disappointment over his violation of model code of conduct.
"As a Union Minister for Law and Minority Affairs, he has
an added responsibility of ensuring that the model code of
conduct is observed in letter and spirit so that elections are
conducted in a free and fair manner and all political parties
enjoy a level-playing field in the matter of their election
campaigns", the EC said.
The Commission held that Khurshid was addressing the
common people at public meetings as Union Minister and not as
a Congress leader.
Setting aside the Congress plea in this regard, the EC
said "the above contention is also not tenable for the reason
that in the perception of common man, which is of paramount
consideration, the respondent addressed them at public
meetings as Union Minister for Law and Minority Affairs and
not as mere leader of the Congress party."
The Commission said it "has come to the inescapable
conclusion that the respondent, Shri Salman Khurshid, made a
new promise to a distinct targeted group of the electorate
among the minorities that 9 per cent seats would be reserved
for them from out of the overall quota of 27 per cent for the
other backward classes.
"The Commission is also satisfied that the above promise
was made by Shri Salman Khurshid as Union Minister for Law and
Minority Affairs. Thus, Shri Salman Khurshid has violated the
model code of conduct by making the abovesaid promise. The
Commission, therefore, cannot help expressing its deep anguish
and disappointment over his violation of model code of
The Election Commission had issued a showcause notice to Khurshid on January 10 for having declared that his party would provide nine percent reservation to minorities from the existing 27 per cent reservation meant for OBCs should it return to power in UP. The EC held that prima facie his promise on sub-quota for backward Muslims was ‘serious violation’ of the model code of conduct.
The senior Congress leader had made these comments while campaigning in Farrukhabad Assembly Constituency in Uttar Pradesh from where his wife Louise is fighting the elections. Nonetheless, Khurshid in a defiant mode had said that he had no regrets as he had not done anything unlawful. While replying to the EC he had defended his statement by citing the 2009 Congress poll manifesto in which the party had promised to provide for a sub-quota for minorities. He maintained that that he had only made a declaration of intent and not a policy announcement.
The Law Minister’s remarks on the promise of sub-quota for Muslims within the existing 27 percent OBC quota had expectedly created a furore with the Opposition calling it a poll gimmick and a clear violation of the model code of conduct.
Terming the move as vote-bank politics, BJP had attacked the Congress over its Muslim quota plank and accused the ruling party of dividing the country by promising to give religion-based reservation.
The EC order came on BJP`s complaint about Khurshid`s
remarks, asking the Commission to take action against him for
violation of the model code of conduct.
In their complaint against Khurshid, BJP had said "this
direct appeal on religious, caste and communal basis was a
direct and blatant violation of the model code of conduct".
BJP also alleged Khurshid had violated the election code
with his promise as UP has a sizeable population of
minorities, especially Muslims, who were being wooed by
Congress ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in the state.
A BJP delegation led by party Vice President Mukhtar
Abbas Naqvi had also met the CEC alleging Khurshid was seeking
votes in the name of religion, which was a "serious violation
" of election laws.
In the politically volatile state of Uttar Pradesh where the Muslim population is close to 19 percent, it is no surprise that all the major political parties are playing the minority card.
Also, much is at stake for the Congress party and their general secretary Rahul Gandhi in the ongoing Assembly polls. On the one hand the Congress is hoping for resurgence of sorts in these elections, on the other much is at stake for Rahul who will have to take a fair share of the blame if the Congress does not do well in the state.