NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented action, the Election Commission tonight sought the "immediate and decisive" intervention of President Pratibha Patil after it charged Law Minister Salman Khurshid with "improper and unlawful" defiance of its orders under which he was censured for promising sub-quota for minorities. In a strongly-worded communication to Patil, the Commission said Khurshid's action could "vitiate free and fair polls" in Uttar Pradesh and that the EC was "perturbed because the undermining of its Constitutionally-mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the ECI rather than to denigrate it".
The Commission took the unprecedented decision to complain against a union minister to the President after Khurshid had told an election rally in UP earlier in the day that he would continue to pursue the line on nine percent sub-quota for minorities 'even if they (EC) hang me'.
Khurshid had earlier been censured for the same statement made on January 8 while campaigning in UP, with EC holding that it was violative of the Election Model Code of Conduct. The decision of writing to the President came after an emergency meeting of the full three-member Commission headed by S Y Quraishi.
Never before has EC sought Presidential intervention to rein in a union minister in the middle of a crucial election and EC decision is bound to embarrass the government and Congress Party. Patil immediately passed on the complaint to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek his comments on the issue which was immediately seized by BJP to demand Khurshid's dismissal.