Delhi Election 2020: Remove Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma from list of star campaigners, EC tells BJP

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Updated: January 30, 2020 1:41:50 PM

Verma, who is an MP from West Delhi, said in an interview to ANI that Shaheen Bagh protesters could “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters” if left unchecked.

Verma, who is an MP from West Delhi, said in an interview to ANI that Shaheen Bagh protesters could “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters” if left unchecked.

The Election Commission Wednesday ordered removal of BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma from the party’s list of star campaigners. This comes after Thakur, who is minister of state for finance, urged the crowd at a rally this week to chant “desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro saalon ko”.

Verma, who is an MP from West Delhi, said in an interview to ANI that Shaheen Bagh protesters could “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters” if left unchecked.

The Commission has already issued showcause notices to both leaders for their remarks, and both have time until Thursday noon to respond to the notice on the alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Removal from the star campaigner’s list does not bar Thakur and Verma from campaigning — in fact, Verma was at a rally addressed by home minister Amit Shah in Najafgarh on Wednesday. “That decision (whether they should be barred from campaigning) will only be taken once they have presented their defence to the Commission in their reply to the showcause notices,” said an EC official.

As star campaigners, the expenditure incurred on campaigning by Thakur and Verma was exempt from being added to the expenditure account of a candidate. But this only applied if they limit themselves to general campaign for the BJP.

Their removal from the star campaigner’s list is intended to make campaigning difficult for them. This is because whichever constituency they now hold their election meeting or rally in — irrespective of whether they limit themselves to general party propaganda or not — the entire expenditure of the event will be added to the account of the BJP candidate contesting from that seat. And candidates are not supposed to breach their expenditure limit (Rs 28 lakh in case of Delhi elections).

A recognised political party can have 40 star campaigners and an unrecognised (but registered) political party can have 20. The list of star campaigners has to be communicated to the Chief Electoral Officer and Election Commission within a week from the date of notification of an election.

In wake of the statements made by the two BJP leaders, the EC reiterated its past instructions on the Model Code of Conduct to all political parties Wednesday. The Code forbids communally divisive statements during election campaign, criticism of private life of candidates and leaders or personal attacks and use of religion for election propaganda, among other things.

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