A day after the Election Commission revoked the ‘star campaigner’ status from former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath over multiple violations of Model Code of Conduct, the senior Congress leader said he had not received any notice from the Commission. Reiterating that his ‘item’ comment was not meant to hurt anyone, he, however, questioned whether star campaigner is a post. “Which post or position this star campaigner has? The EC had not given me any notice, nor had it asked me about it. Why they are doing this in the last two days of campaigning only they know,” Kamal Nath told news agency PTI.
Campaigning will end on November 1. A total of 28 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh will go to the bypolls on November 3. To return to power, the Congress will have to win all 28 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, will retain the state if it wins nine seats as that would make the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly.
During campaigning, Kamal Nath used the term “item” against a woman minister for which his ‘star campaigner’ status has been revoked. Defending his comment, Kamal Nath said when he said ‘item’, he meant agenda. “I was in Lok Sabha for so many years. There it is mentioned in the agenda sheet, item number 1, item number 2… That was on my mind. I did not say it to disrespect anyone,” he said. “Yet, I had said that if someone feels insulted, then I express regret,” Kamal Nath said.
Nath also claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi did not express disapproval about him in particular after the episode, but only said disrespectful language should not be used against women.
On the BJP’s demand for apology from him over the remark, Nath said, “It is not anyone’s demand. I do what I feel is right and proper, because it (disrespecting the woman minister) was never my intention.”
The costs of star campaigners’ rallies are borne by the party, and are not added to the election spends of the candidates for whom they campaign.
“The Commission 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 model code of conduct and breaching the ethical and dignified behaviour,” the Commission said in its order issued on October 30.
(With PTI inputs)