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Kamal Nath moves SC against EC taking away ‘star campaigner’ status in MP bypolls

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New Delhi:  Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath has moved the Supreme Court challenging an order of the Election Commission to revoke the Congress leader’s “star campaigner” status for violations of the model code during campaign for the bypolls in 28 assembly constituencies in the state.

Senior lawyer and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha told PTI that the former chief minister has challenged the EC’s decision on various grounds and an urgent hearing on his plea would be sought.

The plea has been filed through advocate-on-record Varun Chopra and the defects pointed out in it by the apex court registry have been cured, said Tankha.

The poll panel on Friday took note of alleged breach of “ethical and dignified behaviour” and revoked the “star campaigner” status of the Congress leader.

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

In the order, the poll panel said, “…for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath, Ex-Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect for the current Bye-elections of Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh.”

It said no permission will be granted by authorities to Nath as a star campaigner.

“However, if any campaign is done by Kamal Nath from now onwards, the entire expenditure related to travel, stay and visit will be completely borne by the candidate in whose constituency he carries out campaigning,” it said.

The EC said it has carefully considered the matter and has observed with “displeasure that Kamal Nath, despite being a leader of a political party, is repeatedly violating the provisions of Model Code of Conduct and breaching the ethical and dignified behaviour”.

The commission referred to his remarks against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

He had used the words “mafia” and “milawat khor” against a political rival at a recent campaigning event.

Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like “item” in campaigning.

He had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.

The commission had announced the poll schedule on September 29 and the MCC came into immediate effect. Campaigning for the bypolls ends on November 1.

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