The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday (October 21) issued a notice to former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath on his “item” jibe at BJP candidate Imarti Devi, saying his remarks were found to be in violation of the model code in place in the state due to the assembly by-election.
“Now, therefore, the Commission gives you an opportunity to explain your stand in making the above said statement within 48 hours of receipt of this notice, failing which the Election Commission of India shall take a decision without further reference to you,” the notice said.
Addressing a poll meeting on Sunday in Gwalior’s Dabra town, where the BJP has fielded Imarti Devi, Kamal Nath had said the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike his opponent who was an “item”.
“Why should I take the name (of the opposing candidate)? You all know that person better than me. What an item,” he had said.
Madhya Pradesh BJP leaders, led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Monday held a protest against Kamal Nath, while the National Commission for Women sought an explanation from the Congress leader for his remark.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too had expressed contempt over Nath’s remark, to which the latter had replied, “It is Rahul Gandhi’s opinion,” according to NDTV.
Furthermore, on Monday, Nath attempted to brush off his comment as insignificant, saying “item” was a commonly used term everywhere, including parliament, and was not an insult in any manner. “I just didn’t remember the (person’s) name… this list (in his hand) says item no. 1, item no. 2. Is this an insult?” Kamal Nath told reporters.
“I did not say anything disrespectful. I respect women. If anyone thinks this is disrespectful, then I regret it,” he added.
“I have already clarified the context in which I made that statement… Why should I apologise when I did not intend to insult anyone? If anyone felt insulted, I have already expressed regret,” Nath told reporters.
Bypolls to 28 Madhya Pradesh Assembly seats will be held on November 3.
(With inputs from agencies)