Quota row: Khurshid defiant, EC writes to Prez

The EC wrote to President Pratibha Patil against the ‘defiant and aggressive’ Law Minister and sought her immediate decisive intervention.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In an unprecedented action, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday wrote to President Pratibha Patil, taking strong objection to Salman Khurshid`s comments after its censure on his minority quota remarks.

The EC wrote to Pratibha Patil against the ‘defiant and aggressive’ Law Minister and sought her immediate decisive intervention.

The EC said that the defiance by a Union Minister of the Constitutional body was "unprecedented" and his ‘improper and unlawful action’ has put a strain on the delicate balance of functions between constitutional authorities.

The strongly-worded two-page letter was written to the President after an emergency meeting of the full Commission in the wake of Khurshid`s statement earlier in the day that he would continue to pursue the line on nine percent sub-quota for minorities `even if they hang me`.

"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," the EC letter said.

Meanwhile, the President has forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Sticking to his stand on minorities, Congress leader Salman Khurshid had said he would ensure the rights of Pasmanda Muslim community even if the Election Commission ‘hangs’ him.

Addressing an election rally in Khatakpur locality last night, the Law Minister said that EC had censured him, but even if the "Commission hangs him or does anything else", he would ensure that people of Pasmanda community get their rights.

"Can`t I even say that Pasmanda Muslims would get their due?" he had asked, adding that Congress was set to hoist the tricolour in the state Assembly after 22 years.

In an embarrassment for the Congress party, the Commission had censured Khurshid on Feburary 09 for his remarks on sub-quota for minorities. Khurshid, while campaigning for his wife Louise, a Congress candidate from Farrukhabad Assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh, had promised the electorate last month that the party would increase the sub-quota for minorities to nine per cent, out of the 27 percent Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation.

In a terse message EC had 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, had held that Khurshid had violated the model code of conduct. The Commission had expressed deep anguish and disappointment over his violation of model code of conduct.

Salman Khurshid’s statements over nine percent reservation for the Muslims had been earlier castigated by the BJP as a divide and rule policy by the Congress and as an attempt to appease the Muslim population of Uttar Pradesh where much is at stake for the grand old party.

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.

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 ongoing Assembly elections in the politically volatile state of Uttar Pradesh where the Muslim population is more than 18 percent and where much is at stake for Rahul Gandhi, it is no surprise that the Congress is playing the minority card and going all out to woo the Muslim population.

With PTI inputs