A day after the EC barred senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan from poll campaigning over his derogatory remarks against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaya Prada, his son Abdullah on Tuesday alleged that his father was targeted as he is a Muslim.
"No action was taken when the BJP candidate (Jaya Prada) stated on Twitter that she is coming to Rampur (Khan's constituency) to bring an end to the regime of a demon," Abdullah told news persons in Rampur.
"But in (Khan's) speech, there has been no mention of a name or gender, Azam Khan has been banned only because he is a Muslim," he added.
Senior SP leader Azam Khan was slapped Monday with a poll campaign ban, a first information report and a women commission notice for his alleged 'khaki underwear' jibe at Jaya Prada.
Jaya Prada, who was earlier with the SP and has now been pitted by the BJP against Khan from Rampur Lok Sabha seat, demanded his immediate disqualification from contesting polls.
However, Abdullah termed the gag order as an attempt by the EC to please the BJP after the poll panel banned Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning.
"As Yogi was also banned, it was required to ban Azam Khan so that it does not seem that action is being taken only against the BJP and make them angry... it was done to please the BJP," Abdullah alleged.
The EC had imposed a nation-wide ban on Adityanath for 72 hours, starting from 6 am on Tuesday, for his 'provocative' communal remarks.
Stressing that the SP leader was not allowed to present his view point, he said, "No notice was served... natural justice was denied... he was banned just like that."
Jaya Prada had represented Rampur twice in Lok Sabha after winning in 2004 and 2009 as a SP leader. Later she was expelled from the party, along with Amar Singh, following differences with Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Last month she joined BJP and has been nominated as the saffron party's candidate against Khan from Rampur, which goes to polls on April 23.
Khan and some other SP leaders sought to suggest that Khan's comments were targeted at Singh, who is considered her mentor in UP politics.
BJP urges EC to review decision banning Yogi from campaigning
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday urged the Election Commission to review its order banning Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for 72 hours, claiming he did not intend to incite communal tension and had only expressed his beliefs.
A BJP delegation including Union ministers J P Nadda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and V K Singh also asked the EC to take action against cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu alleging that he tried to 'spread hatred' with his speech in Bihar's Katihar constituency on Monday.
Defending Adityanath, Nadda said, "We have urged the EC to review its decision banning Yogi Adityanath for 72 hours from participating in poll campaign. Yogi ji only expressed his beliefs and did not intend to seek votes or influence any community."
"We have requested the EC to review the decision to ban him and keep in view our right to retort and response," the Union health minister told reporters.
The poll watchdog served a notice to Adityanath on Monday after he, while addressing a rally in Meerut, compared the Lok Sabha elections to a contest between 'Ali', a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.
On the complaint against Sidhu, Nadda said, "The BJP delegation also met the EC for action against Sidhu. His comments in Purnia, Bihar, communalise and spread hatred among communities on religious lines, thereby committing blatant violations under Indian Penal Code, Representation of the People Act and Model Code of Conduct."
Sidhu stoked controversy on Monday by urging Muslim voters of Bihar's Katihar Lok Sabha constituency, with sizeable population of the minority community, to vote en bloc and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sidhu was canvassing in support of Congress leader and former union minister Tariq Anwar.