The Samajwadi Party and the Congress Friday opposed the Election Commission's decision to revoke a ban on campaigning and public rallies by BJP general secretary Amit Shah, raking up a controversy.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) accused the Election Commission of working at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party, while the Congress said both Shah and senior SP leader Azam Khan, who too was banned from holding public meetings, were equally communal. The two leaders were banned by the EC from electioneering at public rallies for their hate speeches, invoking religious sentiments.
However, in a statement released late Thursday, the poll panel said the ban on Shah has been modified and while he would be allowed to hold rallies, these would be closely monitored. The move came after Shah's apology to the poll panel. "I undertake on oath that I shall not use abusive or derogatory language in the campaign and shall not make any utterances violative of MCC (Model Code of Conduct)," Shah said in his apology letter to the commission.
Samajwadi Party's leader Naresh Agarwal, however, condemned the decision, calling the poll panel partial. "We strongly condemn it. It seems the EC has also become partial and is working at the behest of Narendra Modi and the BJP," Agarwal, a Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha member, told IANS. "We will fight against this, the ban on Azam Khan is unfair, he did not say anything as provoking as Amit Shah did".
Azam Khan, a popular Muslim leader from Uttar Pradesh, said the commission did not consider his reply. "They did not consider my reply and took very strong action against me," he said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is no difference in what Azam Khan and Amit Shah said, but refused to make any comment on the commission action. "I will not comment on the decision taken by a constitutional body, but for us there is no difference in Amit Shah and Azam Khan. Both are two sides of the same coin, both are communal," Singhvi said.