India’s election watchdog yesterday banned two outspoken politicians from campaigning in the country’s national vote for making provocative speeches which it said could stir communal unrest.
The measures came after the Supreme Court called on the election commission to get tough on hate speech during the world’s biggest election, which started last Thursday and runs through to May 19.
Mayawati, a leader for low-caste Dalits, was banned from campaigning for 48 hours for calling on Muslims to vote in a bloc against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Yogi Adityanath, firebrand BJP chief minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, was sidelined for three days for his response to Mayawati, comparing the election to a battle between Muslim and Hindu gods.
Hindus -- who make up the majority community in India -- had “no option” but to support the BJP, he added.
Both politicians made “highly provocative speeches” which had “the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities,” the commission said.