Thakur, Verma removed as BJP star campaigners: EC

Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma removed as BJP star campaigners: EC

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma. (PTI Photos)

Election Commission on Wednesday removed Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma from the list of star campaigners of BJP for Delhi Assembly election following their controversial comments.

Last Saturday, the EC had imposed a 48-hour campaign ban on BJP's Model Town candidate Kapil Mishra for his comments against anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh and describing the February 8 polls as an "India vs Pakistan" contest.

Thakur has run into trouble for his "shoot the traitors" sloganeering in a campaign meeting on Monday while Verma stoked a controversy on Tuesday claiming that lakhs of people are coming to the anti-CAA protest site of Shaheen and they could enter one's house to rape and murder their sisters and daughters.

"Election Commission has ordered the removal of Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh (Verma) from the list of star campaigners of BJP for the general elections to the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi with immediate effect and until further orders," an official statement said.

Both the BJP leaders were among 40-star campaigners for Delhi polls. The expenses incurred on the campaign by star campaigners are not accounted in individual candidates' poll expenses. It is accounted for in the party's expenses, which have no limit.

A show-cause notice was issued to Thakur on Tuesday while Verma was served with a notice on Wednesday giving them time till 12 noon on Thursday to explain their position failing which the Commission will make a decision without considering their positions.

Officials said the EC will decide on further action like banning the duo from campaigning for a specific period after considering their representations.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister and BJP election in-charge Prakash Javadekar said the party will submit an application without providing further explanation when asked about the EC removing the BJP leaders as star campaigners. “We are a thinking party. We take note of such things. We run our campaign on positivity,” he said.

He said the BJP is campaigning on how the AAP government is putting a spanner in development works and these leaders were also highlighting these aspects.

Earlier in the day, Verma, claimed that he has received a threat call from an unknown person. He tweeted with the screen-shot of the number from which he received a call at 8:11 AM, "got a threat call in the morning from this number. Filing a police complaint."

On Monday in a campaign meeting in Rithala, Thakur was seen clapping his hands and chanting, "desh ke gaddaron ko (traitors of the country)..." to which the crowd responded, "goli maaro saalon ko (shoot them all)". The video had went viral on social media.

Verma told a news agency on Tuesday, "lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). That fire can now enter Delhi's houses at any time. People of Delhi will have to take a think and take a decision. These people can enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters and kill them." Another video of Verma also surfaced in which he was heard saying that once the BJP government is in power, all mosques that had come upon government land in his constituency will be razed.

As the campaigning gathers pace, BJP has been upping the ante on Shaheen Bagh with several leaders from BJP president J P Nadda to Home Minister Amit Shah to local leaders continuously referring to the protest.