Congress leader Supriya Shrinate received a show-cause notice from the Election Commission (File).

New Delhi:

The Election Commission has issued show-cause notices to Congress leader Supriya Shrinate and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dilip Ghosh over “derogatory” remarks against actor Kangana Ranaut – the BJP’s candidate for Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi Lok Sabha – and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“… on careful examination, the comment(s) have been found to be ‘undignified and in bad taste’, and to be prima facie violative of provisions of the Model Code of Conduct…” the poll panel said.

Ms Shrinate and Mr Ghosh have been given till 5 pm Friday to explain why action should not be taken against them. “In the event of no response… it will be presumed you have nothing to say…” the ECI said.

Supriya Shrinate-Kangana Ranaut Row

Controversy erupted after a crude and sexist post targeting Ms Ranaut appeared on Ms Shrinate’s Instagram account.

The Congress leader issued a video clarification on her X handle, in which she said she had deleted the inappropriate post. Ms Shrinate said the post had been made without her knowledge.

“Many people have access to my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Someone from them made an extremely inappropriate post today. As soon as I came to know, I deleted that post. Everyone who knows me knows I can never make personal and indecent comments towards any woman,” she said.

READ | Congress Leader’s Instagram Post On Kangana Ranaut Sparks Row

She also blamed a parody account bearing her name for the post.

“Someone copied it from there and posted it on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I am trying to know who has done this… I have also reported this parody account to Twitter,” she said.

However, by then the post and the photograph had kicked up a storm, including a letter from the National Commission of Women to the Election Commission calling for action against Ms Shrinate.

NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma also called on Sonia Gandhi to take “stringent action” against Supriya Shrinate and another Congress leader, HS Ahir, for similarly distasteful comments.

Ms Ranaut – who makes her political debut in this Lok Sabha election – responded sharply.

“We must free our daughters from the shackles of prejudices, we must rise above the curiosity about their body parts and above all we must refrain from using sex workers’ challenging lives or circumstances as some kind of abuse or slur… every woman deserves her dignity,” she said.

READ | “No Place For Such Language”: Congress On Kangana Ranaut Remarks Row

An under-fire Congress has since responded. The party said that such coarse language has no place in public discourse, and also that the matter should end now with Ms Shrinate’s explanation.

Dilip Ghosh’s Comment On Mamata Banerjee

The other show-cause notice issued today was for Mr Ghosh’s comment about the Bengal Chief Minister. “Didi goes to Goa and says, ‘I am Goa’s daughter’… goes to Tripura and says, ‘Am Tripura’s daughter’. Decide who your father is. It is not good to be just anybody’s daughter,” he had said.

Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress has ripped into Mr Ghosh over his crude remark.

Unfortunately for the BJP, Mr Ghosh’s comment also left the party on the back-foot even as it was trying to corner the Congress over the post on Ms Shrinate’s account against Ms Ranaut.

READ | “Woman Card”: BJP’s Dilip Ghosh Amid Row Over Mamata Remarks

Aware of the damage Mr Ghosh’s remark could have on its image in Bengal, the BJP has demanded an explanation from its senior leader. Mr Ghosh has said he will respond to the party’s questions.

READ | BJP Seeks Dilip Ghosh’s Clarification For “Father” Jab At Mamata Banerjee

“I have no personal enmity with the Chief Minister. I only questioned the political remarks she has made to mislead people. A lot of people have problems with my language and usage of words… Many have said it is not parliamentary. If that is the case, I regret it,” he said today.

Poll Panel’s “Red Line” Warning

Earlier this month, while announcing the 2024 Lok Sabha election date, the poll panel warned parties and political leaders to behave themselves.

Stating that the level of political discourse is falling in the country, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar warned politicians from making caste or religious appeals and to avoid criticising “any aspect of private life” of their rivals.

READ | “Don’t Cross Red Line…”: Election Commission To Political Parties

“In this digital world, anything you say has a record and is played over and over. Please avoid creating digital memories of bad words that are coming out of your mouth. Please be civilised during the election,” he added.

The 2024 Lok Sabha election will take place over seven phases beginning April 19 and ending June 1. The results will be declared on June 4.

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