EC to act on Khurshid after hearing from PM

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New Delhi: Even as Law Minister Salman Khurshid “bowed” to the “wisdom” of the Election Commission and regretted his remarks on sub-quota for backward sections of minorities in Uttar Pradesh, the case will be decided only after word from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, highly placed sources in the poll panel said.

“The fact is the Election Commission censured Khurshid for his speech. It then formally wrote to the president and the president forwarded the complaint to the prime minister,” a senior official privy to the developments said.

“It is only prudent that the Election Commission will wait to see what the prime minister has to say,” the official told IANS, adding: “So far the commission has not heard from the prime minister.”

“I treat this matter as unfortunate and regret the statement. I bow to the wisdom of the Election Commission and remain personally committed to ensure that such situations do not arise,” Khurshid said in a letter sent to the Election Commission Monday and released by the panel Tuesday.

Congress circles have been hoping that the commission may treat the issue as closed following Khurshid’s letter, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued its demand that Khurshid be sacked.

“Just a regret should not be accepted. Either he (Khurshid) should apologise to the people and the commission for making misleading promises and provocative statements or he should be sacked,” Balbir K. Punj, spokesperson of the BJP told reporters.

Khurshid said in his letter: “It was never been my intention to transgress the law or the model code of conduct. I have great respect for the commission and the decisions it takes and has taken.”

“As responsible citizens of this country, it is our obligation to promote the spirit of law, its adherence and enforcement.”

“This is the ethos on which I have woven my entire life and am committed to the Election Commission’s effort towards the conduct of a free and fair election process,” the letter said.

Stating that he “feels disturbed with the developments arising out of one of my statements made in the course of the election campaign,” Khurshid said: “It has also caused me equal measure of sadness.”

The Election Commission had censured Khurshid for his speech regarding nine percent job quotas for minorities. He was addressing a poll meeting at Farrukhabad, where his wife Louise Khurshid, is the Congress candidate in the ongoing Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

Even after the commission, following complaints from the opposition parties, censured Khurshid for the speech, the minister stood by the statement and said he was ready to be hanged for it.

The Election Commission then wrote to President Pratibha Patil that the tone and tenor of the minister was utterly contemptuous.

“We have found the tone and tenor of the union minister dismissive and utterly contemptuous about the Commission’s lawful direction to him, besides the fact that his action is damaging the level playing field in the election,” the Election Commission said in its letter to the president.

The president forwarded the letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.