EC revokes Kamal Nath's star campaigner status over 'repeated violations' ahead of MP by-polls
Bhopal/IBNS: The Election Commission on Friday declared that senior Congress leader Kamal Nath will no longer remain a "star campaigner" for the Madhya Pradesh by-polls next week following the series of controversial remarks by him.
The election body said that Nath's star campaigner status was being revoked for "repeated violation of model code of conduct" and for "complete disregard" of warnings to him.
Kamal Nath, being a senior leader of a political party, had repeatedly "breached ethical and dignified behaviour", the commission said in its order.
After the order, if Nath campaigns for the by-polls, the cost of his travel, stay and everything else will be from the candidate's poll expenses, which are limited.
A "star campaigner's" expenses go to the party account and can be unlimited.
The Congress's Madhya Pradesh unit said it would challenge the decision in court.
The former Madhya Pradesh CM had been earlier warned by the poll body for his "item" jibe at a woman BJP candidate, a former Congress leader among the 22 MLAs whose exit led to the collapse of his government in March.
During an election campaign, Nath triggered a controversy calling Imarti Devi an "item", drawing strong reactions from the ruling dispensation.
".. What is her name? Why should I take her name? You know her better and you all should have warned me earlier. What an item! What an item!" Nath said, referring to Imarti Devi, who had switched from the Congress to BJP.
He was subsequently served a notice by the poll panel which had warned the senior Congress leader against the use of "such words or statements" when the model code of conduct was in place.
By-elections in Madhya Pradesh will be held on Nov 3 to fill 28 vacant seats in the state assembly.
Most of these seats fell vacant when Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia revolted earlier this year and switched sides along 22 MLAs.
Kamal Nath's Congress-led government fell and the BJP returned to power. The BJP needs to win at least eight of these seats to stay in power, while the Congress will have to win all the 28 seats to make an attempt to come to power.