Not guilty of violating model code, Verma tells poll panel

Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma has told the Election Commission he was not guilty of violating the model code of conduct as his comments on a quota for minorities were made in context of his party's manifesto, Congress sources said Monday. The sources said Verma sent his reply to the Commission's notice in a sealed cover ahead of the Monday deadline. In the letter, Verma is learnt to have pleaded that he was not guilty of a poll code violation. Verma's reply is likely to be taken up by the poll panel Tuesday. The Election Commission had issued a show cause notice to Verma finding his remarks on minorities sub-quota a "prima facie" violation of model code, after the minister dared the poll body to take action against him.
Addressing a poll rally in Farrukhabad last week, Verma had said that reservation for Muslims will be increased and if the Election Commission wants, it can issue him a notice. Verma is the second minister from the Congress to draw the poll panel's ire after Law Minister Salman Khurshid for his remarks on reservations for minorities. The Congress had said earlier in the day that Verma had no intention to disrespect the Commission. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the party expected a "balanced view" from the Commission. "Let me make it clear, especially after my discussions with him (Beni Prasad Verma), there is no question of the slightest disrespect intended or done in any manner to the Election Commission," Singhvi said. "I know Mr. Verma holds it (the Election Commission) in the highest esteem, and whatever he has said is on record. Certainly, the intent was neither to violate any law nor to violate any model code of conduct, nor to bring down the dignity of the Election Commission," Singhvi said.(IANS)


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