The Election Commission on Thursday censured Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for announcing that the minority sub-quota would be increased from 4.5 per cent to 9 per cent.
The EC termed it as a violation of the model code of conduct.
Acting on BJP’s complaint against Khurshid, the Commission came to the “inescapable conclusion” that Khurshid, made a new promise to a distinct target group of the electorate among the minorities that 9 per cent seats would be reserved for them from out of the overall quota of 27 per cent for the other backward classes.
“The Commission, therefore, cannot help expressing its deep anguish and disappointment over his violation of model code of conduct,” it said.
The EC pointed out that as a Union Minister, Khurshid had an added responsibility of ensuring that the model code of conduct was observed in letter and spirit so that elections were conducted in a free and fair manner and all political parties enjoyed a level playing field in the matter of their election campaigns. It hoped that such violations would not be repeated.
Rejecting Khurshid’s defence that he had made the promise as the Chairman of the Congress Election Manifesto Committee for UP, the Commission held that he was addressing the common people at public meetings as Union Minister and not as a Congress leader.
The BJP had complained against Khurshid, who had made the promise while campaigning for his wife Louise, a Congress candidate from Farrukhabad assembly constituency. The BJP had termed it “ a direct appeal on religious, caste and communal basis was a direct and blatant violation of the model code of conduct”.
The EC had earlier served a notice to Khurshid on January 10, asking him to reply by January 12. Khurshid defended himself through eminent lawyer and Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi contending he had made the announcement as Congress leader and Chairman of the Manifesto Committee. But this promise was not included in the Manifesto fearing a backlash from OBC’s.
A senior Minister and Congress leader admitted that Khurshid had jumped the gun and should not have made specific announcement about increasing percentage.