Tension escalates between EC and Khurshid

Campaigning concludes : UP all set for third phase of polling

As tension between Election Commission and Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid escalated, the Congress suggested that the model code of conduct for polls could be given statutory effect.

“The model code of conduct is a voluntary compact arrived between political parties and the Election Commission and it has no statutory binding . When the wider framework of electoral reforms are discussed, the model code could be considered to be made statutory,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said while answering questions on dispute between poll panel and Salman Khurshid.

The Congress spokesperson also tried to downplay the issue of action against the minister.

“Don't try and stretch it too far,” he said when suggested whether the censure of Khurshid by the Election Commission should lead to the resignation by the Union Minister.

Earlier in the day, Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi, while campaigning in Raebarelli also sought to play down the raging controversy and said such “things do happen in elections”.

“These things do happen during elections...One is free to voice his opinion during elections. So is the Election Commission,” she said, hoping that “the matter will be sorted out."

However, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee disapproved of the Law Minister’s spat and said Congress has made it clear that “people occupying posts of responsibility should speak responsibly.”

“Let me make it clear that this is not a party issue, though Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi has already made the party’s stand clear that people occupying posts of responsibility should behave responsibly,” Mukherjee said.

Asked whether the PMO, on receipt of the Election Commission’s complaint forwarded by President Pratibha Patil, was likely to take action against Khurshid, Mukherjee said “the Prime Minister is seized of the matter. As and when any action is taken, it will be known to all people.”

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