The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday said former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath has violated its advisory related to campaigning by using the word "item" against a woman BJP candidate. The Commission advised Kamal Nath not to use such words in public during the period of the Model Code of Conduct.
The poll panel issued a notice to Kamal Nath on Monday days after he used the "item" remark against BJP candidate Imarti Devi during a poll rally.
While campaigning in Dabra segment in Gwalior district, Kamal Nath had called BJP's Imarti Devi an 'item', drawing angry reactions from the saffron party even as the Congress accused the BJP of trying to misinterpret certain words.
The BJP had slammed the Congress leader for insulting the woman.
Following a complaint by the state BJP and reference by the National Commission for Women, the EC served the notice to Kamal Nath.
In its order, the poll panel said, " ... the Commission, hereby advises Kamal Nath that while making public utterances he should not use any such word or statement during the period of Model Code of Conduct."
It said, "Kamal Nath used the word item for a lady and that this constitutes a violation of advisory issued by the poll panel relating to the model code."
Meanwhile, BJP leader Imarti Devi herself reacted strongly to the sexist remark by the Congress leader and condemned the use of such "language" during Navratri. She said that such leaders make sure that the Congress party will never again rule Madhya Pradesh.
The comment had earned Kamal Nath a symbolic 'penance' by BJP leaders on his behalf, as chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sat on a 'Maun Vrat' and Jyotiraditya Scindia delivered an animated speech against the former chief minister for his comment.
"I did use the word 'item', but it is not an insulting word," Kamal Nath had said, trying to defend himself. However, Rahul Gandhi had asserted his unhappiness over the remark.
Not long ago, Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Dinesh Gurjar had used the phrase "coming from a hungry and ill-clad family" for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The level of verbal toxicity in the Madhya Pradesh bypoll campaign seems to have gone way beyond sexism into all kinds of low.
The bypolls to 28 Madhya Pradesh Assembly seats will be held on November 3.
(With agency inputs)