New Delhi: The Election Commission today expressed “displeasure” at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's reported remarks asking voters to accept bribe during campaigning in Maharashtra Assembly polls.
In its order, which also carried excerpts of Gadkari's response to the Commission's show cause notice, EC said “irrespective of whatever intentions you might have had, such statements clearly bring disrepute to the purity of our elections as well as the integrity of the democratic process.” Expressing “displeasure”, EC said it expects Gadkari to be “more circumspect in your public utterances in future.”
Responding to the show cause, Gadkari told the EC that “the entire tenor of my speech was to denigrate any attempt to allure/induce voters through any unlawful means. This was done by me through humour and sarcasm. At this point, I would also like to underscore the absence to humour in our present public life. I would urge you to consider carefully the humorous tone in which I spoke...”
Gadkari pleaded that the EC should not interpret his “observations as exhortations to the atmosphere of bribing for vote-seeking. On the contrary, in my own humble way, I was trying to appeal to the electorate not to succumb by fulfilling the purpose for which such alleged inducements might be offered in any form by any quarters.” He said he has the highest regard for the model code of conduct and he has “never uttered a word” that could be construed as a violation of the model code.
But the poll panel rejected his submission saying it “cannot accept” his stand that he intended to address the problem of unethical inducements to voters in a humorous and sarcastic manner by telling the electorate not to get perturbed by the unholy attempts by political parties. In its show cause notice issued earlier this week, the EC said that Gadkari, while addressing a public meeting in Nilenga Assembly constituency on October 5, had allegedly made “statements to the effect of inducing the voters to take bribe if offered by someone and then decide how to vote”.