The Election Commission on Sunday censured Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Begusarai candidate Giriraj Singh for his remark against the Muslim community during an election rally in Bihar. The poll panel condemned his comments and asked him to be careful with what he says while the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

The commission said Singh had violated provisions of the election code and directions of the Supreme Court that religion cannot be used while campaigning.

On April 25, the Begusarai district administration in Bihar had booked Singh for violating the Model Code of Conduct with his comment against Muslims. “Those who cannot say Vande Mataram or cannot respect the motherland, the nation will never forgive them,” Singh had allegedly said. “My ancestors died at the Simaria ghat and no grave was built for them but you [Muslims] need three hand spans of space.”

Singh’s comments were an apparent jibe at the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Darbhanga candidate Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who reportedly refused to say “Vande Mataram”. He had made the controversial comment during a rally at the GD College, in the presence of BJP President Amit Shah.

On April 29, the Election Commission had ordered Singh to clarify his comment. In his response the next day, Singh denied making any statement prejudicial to any caste or religion.

Earlier, an FIR was also filed against Singh in connection with his comments and he surrendered before a court on May 7. Chief Judicial Magistrate Thakur Aman Kumar granted him bail and asked him to furnish two bail bonds of Rs 5,000 each.

Singh is contesting against Communist Party of India candidate Kanhaiya Kumar and the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate Tanveer Hasan. Begusarai went to polls on April 29 and the election results will be declared on May 23.