The Election Commission on Friday revoked the “star campaigner” status of senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for repeated violations of the model code of conduct. 28 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh are up for grabs in the by polls scheduled for November 3. The Congress already being in shambles in Madhya Pradesh, has to also now bear the additional headache and trauma of losing its lone warrior’s star campaigner status in the state. Kamal Nath, by all estimates, has been leading the party’s fight in Madhya Pradesh, mainly due to the belief that he can become the Chief Minister once again, even as the Congress machinery in the state remains disinterested to fight.
The Election Commission revoked the all-important star campaigner status of Kamal Nath following unparliamentary and derogatory statements made by him, first for BJP’s Imarti Devi, and then for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan himself. Kamal Nath had stooped to an unimaginable guttural level, and referred to Imarti Devi as an ‘item’. Campaigning in Dabra, the senior Congress leader had mocked BJP’s Imarti Devi saying the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike his rival, who was an “item”. The EC had then warned Kamal Nath against the usage of “such words or statements” when the model code of conduct was in place.
Despite the stern warning by the Election Commission, on October 13, Kamal Nath said at a rally that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a “nautanki kalakar who should act in films in Mumbai”. He had also said, “Aapke Bhagwan toh woh maafia hai jisse aapne Madhya Pradesh ki pehchaan banai. Aapke bhagwan toh milawat-khor hain (Your god is mafia – an apparent attack on the chief minister).”
Consequently, Kamal Nath was stripped off his status as star campaigner by the poll body on Friday. In an order issued on Friday, the EC said, “…for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath, Ex-Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect for the current Bye-elections of Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh.” With the revocation, the EC has also laid down that no special permissions will be granted to the Congress leader, to which he may have been previously entitled to.
Further, if Kamal Nath does decide to campaign despite the EC’s decision to delist him as a star campaigner, he will do so at the complete expense of the candidate being campaigned for. The Congress, meanwhile, has called the EC’s move “unconstitutional”, and has vowed to approach the Supreme Court for relief. It must be remembered that losing Kamal Nath as the star campaigner days before the polls is a massive loss for the party.