The Election Commission has taken note of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's support to a party candidate who exhorted people to ensure 100 percent voting and not to fear for cases being slapped on them.
Yadav supported party candidate from Noida Narendra Bhati, whose statement was caught on tape.
Poll officials told IANS that while cases have been slapped against Bhati, the matter did not end there and that Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh Umesh Sinha has sought details of Akhilesh Yadav's interactions with media Tuesday, in which he made light of Bhati's comments.
Alluding to Bhati's statement that "we have our own government, even if the poll panel files cases suspecting bogus voting, don't be scared, we will withdraw cases soon after the Lok Sabha polls", the chief minister said that "people have the right to booth management".
While initially feigning ignorance on what Bhati said, Akhilesh Yadav snapped back at reporters that "booth management was nothing wrong". The opposition BJP pounced on Yadav's statement and said that the chief minister was in fact promoting illegal acts such as bogus voting. "This is simply preposterous, the chief minister openly backing a party leader who is talking of breaking laws," said Vijay Bahadur Pathak, state spokesman of the BJP.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s Swamy Prasad Maurya said that nothing better could be expected of Bhati or any other Samajwadi Party (SP) leader, including the chief minister. "We have always been saying that there is mafia raj in the state, this is yet another example," he said.
The BJP has now decided to petition the EC.
Umesh Sinha told IANS that the commission was seized of the matter and that a case has been slapped against Bhati. He added that the poll panel will look into the statement of the chief minister too and act in accordance with the Model Code of Conduct.
Bhati had earlier shot into limelight for using intemperate language against Indian Administrative Service officer Durga Shakti Nagpal and claiming in public that he got the bureaucrat shunted out from Noida on a phone call to the chief minister. The issue then snowballed into a major embarassment for the Akhilesh Yadav-led state government.