New Delhi, Feb 18: Days after "daring" the Election Commission (EC) to take action against him over his remarks on sub-quota for minorities Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma termed the controversial comments as "a slip of tongue."
Mr. Verma said in Lucknow on Saturday that his remarks were not intentional.
“I have been addressing four to five rallies everyday and sometimes I fail to pay attention that in which reference I am saying something,” Mr. Verma said, adding he respected the Election Commission and every person should do so.
At the same time, he maintained that he never utters anything that is not justified.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission today issued notice to the Minister over his remarks on sub—quota for minorities, holding that prima facie it was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and sought his reply by Monday evening.
Mr. Verma is the second Union minister after Law Minister Salman Khurshid who has been issued notice from the poll body for poll code violation over the sub-quota remarks.
The Commission, which examined the video recordings of Mr. Verma's speech at a rally in Farrukhabad in U.P., said it “is prima facie satisfied” that the Steel Minister, “by making the aforesaid statements, has violated the aforesaid provisions of the Model Code of Conduct”.
The EC notice further states, “It is evident from the above statements of Shri Beni Prasad Verma that he was well aware that by making such utterances, he was violating the model code of conduct and yet he deliberately and wilfully did the same.”
The Commission asked Mr. Verma to explain his position by 5 PM on February 20, as to why action should not be taken against him for violating the provisions of Model Code of Conduct.
In case Mr. Verma fails to reply to the notice, the EC will decide the matter without any further reference to him, the notice said.
While addressing a poll rally on Wednesday night in Farukkabad in the presence of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, he had said, “Reservation for Muslims will be increased and if the EC wants, it can now issue a notice to me.”