New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has barred Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu from campaigning in connection with ongoing Lok Sabha polls, for 72 hours. The prohibition for holding any public meeting, road show, public rally, and interviews will start from 10 am on April 23, the ECI said in a statement issued on Monday.
The decision comes in the wake of an alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Sidhu. The ECI condemned the statements made by the Congress leader while campaigning in Barsoi and Barari areas of Katihar district in Bihar.
Earlier in the day, the poll body had issued a notice to Sidhu seeking an explanation within 24 hours for his remarks “urging Muslims to not split votes,” made during a rally on April 16 in Katihar in Bihar. Sidhu, while addressing a rally, had warned Muslims not to split their votes and instead defeat the BJP by voting against it unitedly.
“I am here to warn my Muslim brothers. They (BJP) are dividing you. By bringing people like (Asaduddin) Owaisi here, they want to divide your vote for winning. If you people unite and vote unitedly, then everything will overturn and Modi will be finished,” said Sidhu.
Earlier, the ECI had barred Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan from campaigning for 72 hours and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi for 48 hours. It had also barred Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for 48 hours and 72 hours, respectively, for making statements which violate the MCC.