EC’s removal of Kamal Nath’s star campaigner status unfair, says Congress MP

The inclusion or exclusion of a person in the star campaigner list was the prerogative of the party and was outside the jurisdiction of the EC, adds Vivek Tankha

Congress Rajya Sabha MP and senior lawyer Vivek Tankha on Saturday termed the revocation of star campaigner status of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath as “unfair”, and said such “sarcastic comments” between candidates is the norm in poll campaign worldwide, including the U.S..

The Election Commission on Friday revoked the star campaigner status of Mr. Nath for “repeated violations of the model code” while campaigning for the November 3 bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in the State.

While a political party pays for the expenditure of a star campaigner, an individual candidate pays for the expenditure of other campaigners.

“If you stop the election campaign of parties this way and not allow leaders to criticise each other, then it is not fair,” Mr. Tankha said.

“There will be sarcastic comments (in poll campaigns). Aren’t (U..S President) Trump and (Democratic presidential candidate) Joe Biden trading sarcasm? Doesn’t sarcasm happen in Britain? All over the world, political parties exchange sarcasm during campaigning,” he claimed.

Mr. Tankha said that the EC’s action against Mr. Nath was against the constitutional provisions of freedom of speech, adding it was “surprising” that it came in the last round of campaigning before polls are held on November 3, and that too “without giving any fresh notice“.

He alleged that the ruling BJP made a complaint about Mr. Nath’s remarks after getting worried over the huge crowds the former CM was drawing during the campaign.

Mr. Tankha said he and senior Congressman and lawyer Kapil Sibal will represent Mr. Nath in his legal fight against the EC order.

He claimed that the inclusion or exclusion of a person in the star campaigner list was the prerogative of the party and was outside the jurisdiction of the EC.

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