The Election Commission on Tuesday banned Congress MP Randeep Surjewala from election campaigning for 48 hours, saying that his remarks on March 31 about actor and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini were “sexist, vulgar and unethical”.

The Congress MP is the first political leader to be suspended from campaigning in the current Lok Sabha election cycle.

Surjewala allegedly made the remarks at a rally at the Faral village in Haryana’s Kaithal district. Haryana will go to polls in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election on May 25.

On April 9, the Election Commission issued a show-cause notice to Surjewala in response to a video that showed him making derogatory remarks about Malini. The Congress leader had, however, accused the BJP’s social media cell of distorting his statement.

The poll panel, however, stated that the district election officer sent it a video of the speech and said it was convinced that the Congress leader made the statement in question.

The Election Commission said it “strongly condemns the impugned statement made by him during election campaign held in Haryana and reprimands Shri Randeep Singh Surjewala for the above said misconduct”. The panel barred him from campaigning till 6 pm on April 18.