Who gave you the power to strip star campaigner status, apex court asks EC

On October 30, the Election Commission stripped Kamal Nath of his star campaigner status for the Nov 3 bypolls over a series of controversial remarks

Kamal Nath
A star campaigner is one who can pull crowds and helps brand the party, if not the candidate. | File photo: PTI

The Supreme Court has put on hold the Election Commission’s (EC) order removing Congress’s Kamal Nath as the star campaigner for the by-elections in Madhya Pradesh for alleged violations of the model code of conduct.

“We are staying the Election Commission’s order and the EC has no power,” said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

The Chief Justice was hearing a petition filed by the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. Justice Bobde further said: “Who has given power to you (the Election Commission) to remove a candidate from the star campaigner list? It is you or a leader of the party?”

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On October 30, the Election Commission stripped Kamal Nath of his star campaigner status over a series of controversial remarks, which, the EC said, were “repeated violation of model code of conduct” and “complete disregard” of warnings to him.

The commission order stated that despite being a senior party leader, Kamal Nath had repeatedly “breached ethical and dignified behaviour”.

Earlier, the Election Commission had issued a written warning to the 73-year-old former MP chief minister over his “item” remark for BJP leader Imarti Devi. During a campaign in Dabra last month, Kamal Nath had said the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike his rival (Imarti Devi), who was an “item”.

Also read: Scindia’s embarrassing slip of tongue gets Congress ‘endorsement’

Imarti Devi is a former Congress leader whose exit along with 22 loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia in March had led to the collapse of Kamal Nath’s government.

Despite the EC warning to not to use “such words or statements” at a time when the model code of conduct was in place, Kamal Nath made another provocative comment, this time against incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whom he called a “nautanki kalakar who should act in films in Mumbai”.

On October 31, Kamal Nath had challenged the Commission’s order in the Supreme Court, saying, “It is right of the party to nominate a person as a star campaigner and the Election Commission cannot interfere with the party decision. The decision is a breach of the fundamental right of expression and movement”.

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