Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Monday threatened the Election Commission for imposing a 48-hour gag order on her and alleged that there was a hidden agenda behind the decision. “If we get a chance of forming the government at the Centre, then we will pay it back with interest,” Mayawati said at a press conference in Lucknow.

The poll body on Monday barred Mayawati from campaigning for 48 hours, effective from 6 am Tuesday, for violating the poll code. The same day, the poll body also banned BJP leaders Adityanath and Maneka Gandhi, and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan from campaigning for two to three days, for the same reason. “I am sure people will understand the hidden agenda behind EC’s order,” said the BSP chief, according to the Hindustan Times. “The order is unconstitutional and anti-democratic. I appeal to people to turn up in large number and be my voice.’’

Mayawati alleged that the poll body took the decision hurriedly and under pressure. “It will be remembered as a black day,” claimed the BSP chief. “The order could have been implemented a day after the end of the campaign for the second phase of polling. The order has prevented me from making an appeal to voters to vote for the alliance.” The ban means Mayawati will not be able to address a rally in Agra on Tuesday – the last day before campaigning for the second phase of elections comes to an end. Eight of the 80 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh will vote on April 18.

In a speech in Deoband on April 7, Mayawati had urged Muslim voters not to vote for the Congress. However, the BSP chief denied violating the poll code. “I had made it clear in my explanation that I hadn’t sought votes on basis of caste/creed,” Mayawati said, according to NDTV. “I had only urged Muslims to ensure that their vote isn’t divided. I amply stated that I hadn’t made remarks against any religion, remarks that vitiate atmosphere. The Election Commission overlooked all this.”

Mayawati also criticised the poll body for failing to act against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The EC is not able to gather courage to act against Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been asking votes in the name of martyrs.” On April 9, during a rally in Maharashtra’s Latur city, he urged first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the defence forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike. She said the Election Commission “seems to have shut its ears and eyes” when it comes to Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, who are given “a free hand to spread hatred”.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also questioned the Election Commission’s integrity. The Samajwadi Party and the BSP have formed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections. Yadav asked the Election Commission if it could stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from asking for votes in the name of the Army. “EC directive against Mayawati ji begs the question: do they have integrity to stop PM from asking for votes in name of the Army?” Yadav tweeted.