EC slaps 48 hour campaign ban on Congress leader Surjewala over Hema Malini remarks

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New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) The Election Commission imposed a 48-hour campaigning ban on Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala, effective from 6 p.m. on Tuesday, over his derogatory remarks against Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini.

The Election Commission's action follows the issuance of show cause notices to both Surjewala and Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge regarding the offensive comments made by the former against Hema Malini.

The controversy erupted after a video surfaced on social media wherein Surjewala was purportedly heard making the disparaging remarks.

In the video, Surjewala, in Hindi, reportedly said, “Why do people elect their MLAs/MPs? So that MLAs/MPs can raise the public's voice. It's not like Hema Malini, who was elected to lick."

The remarks quickly drew condemnation from the BJP, labelling it as a "new low to disrespect and demean the dignity of women."

The EC, in its order, said that a reply was received from Surjewala on April 11 in response to the Commission's notice wherein he has, inter alia, claimed that the video cited by the complainant was doctored.

"The Commission has carefully gone through the contents and averments made in the aforesaid reply of Randeep Singh Surjewala. The Commission is in receipt of the report of DEO Kaithal wherein it is stated that the aforesaid objectionable utterances were made during a speech given by Randeep Singh Surjewala on March 31, 2024, at Faral village of Pundri assembly constituency in the Kaithal district and the entire speech was videographed by the video surveillance team deployed by DEO. To confirm the veracity of the allegation about the aforesaid remarks being made in the speech, the Commission also examined the video of the speech submitted by DEO, Kaithal and is convinced that he has made the said statement and thus violated the aforesaid provisions of Model Code of Conduct," the EC order read.

"The Commission without prejudice to any Order/Notice issued or to be issued subsequently to him in the matter relating to MCC violations, hereby, strongly condemns the impugned statement made by him during the election campaign held in Haryana and reprimands Randeep Singh Surjewala for the above-said misconduct. The Commission, under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this behalf, bars him from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews, public utterances in media (electronic, print, social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections for 48 hours from 6 p.m. on April 16," it added.