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Khurshid defiant, poll panel goes to president

New Delhi : Taking exception to union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid sticking to his remarks about backward Muslims during campaigning in Uttar Pradesh despite a censure, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Saturday sought President Pratibha Patil’s intervention so that polls in the state were conducted in accordance with law.

Quraishi wrote a letter to the president Saturday that the minister’s fresh remarks had “created a disturbing situation”.

“The full commission hence deliberated on the matter in an emergency meeting this (Saturday) afternoon while being concerned about the fact that Khurshid’s action could vitiate free and fair poll in Uttar Pradesh,” the letter said.

“The commission is perturbed because the undermining of its constitutionally mandated duties has come from the law minister who has a direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the ECI rather than to denigrate it,” Quraishi said in his letter.

“The Election Commission of India finds it necessary and unavoidable to turn to you at this juncture for immediate and decisive intervention so that the ongoing election to the Uttar Pradesh assembly is conducted, and this commission discharges its functions in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” the letter said.

Khurshid triggered a fresh controversy Friday evening with his remarks that he will ensure rights to “pasmanda (backward Muslims)” even if he is “hanged” by the poll panel.

The poll panel had censured Khurshid over his promise to give nine percent quota to minorities, including backward Muslims, within 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) if the Congress is voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, saying it was violation of model code of conduct.

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