NEW DELHI / LUCKNOW: Holding prima facie his promise of nine per cent sub quota for backward Muslims as a "serious violation" of Model Code of Conduct, the Election Commission today slapped show-cause notice on Law Minister Salman Khurshid, asking why action should not be taken against him.
The EC notice capped a day of raging controversy over his comments in Farrukhabad, where his wife Louise is contesting as a Congress candidate for the assembly polls, after which BJP met the Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi and demanded action against him.
A show cause notice was separately served on Louise by the Election authorities, asking her to explain why action should not be taken against her.
In their complaint, BJP alleged that Khurshid had violated the election code with his promise as UP has a sizeable population of minorities, especially Muslims, who were being wooed by the Congress ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in the state.
In a two-page late night notice, Khurshid has been asked to explain why action should not be taken against him for code violation and directed him to send his response to the Commission before 5 PM on January 12.
It said the announcement of such promise is "prima facie a serious violation" of the provisions of the Model Code.
In case Khurshid failed to respond within the stipulated time, the Commission said it would be assumed that he has nothing to say in the matter and action as deemed fit would be initiated against him without any further notice.
A BJP delegation headed by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, MP, met the CEC and said that Khurshid was seeking votes in the name of religion which was a clear violation of election laws.
However, Khurshid rejected the charges against him claiming he was only referring to the party's election manifesto and there was no violation of the Code.
Khurshid hit back at BJP saying the party was following double standards because it promised construction of a Ram temple.
"The Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Misra Commission have recommended 8.5 per cent quota for Muslims. What is wrong if I talk about nine per cent reservation for them," he told reporters in Bareilly.
"I have not violated the model code of conduct. I have a right to put forth my view. It should reach the people," he said.
"It means that we should not bring out a manifesto, not deliver a speech and sit back at home and elections should be held without all these...They can talk of building Ram Temple and we are only referring to a provision which is already there," he said.
After the BJP delegation's meeting with CEC, Naqvi said "The Congress is trying to create communal tension in UP and the country by announcing increase in the sub-quota for Muslims. The announcement made by Law Minister is in violation of the model code of conduct and is unconstitutional."
"We will not allow anyone to snatch or grab away the rights of backward classes. BJP will not allow the Congress or BSP to play the caste card and try to divide the people on the basis of caste and religion", he said.
The Congress party went on the defensive on the EC notices over Khurshid's quota remarks saying it respected the election body's decision.
Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi, who faced a volley of questions from mediapersons over the show cause notices said the Election Commission is a Constitutional body and the party respected its decision.
He said, "If the Election Commission feels that it is not appropriate time to make the announcement (by Salman Khurshid), it is well within its authority. We do not comment on EC orders. We also advise other parties not to comment on EC orders."
The Law minister while campaigning in Farrukhabad had on Sunday promised to the electorate that if Congress is voted to power in the state it would enhance the sub-quota to Muslims to 9 per cent within the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).