The Election Commission on Thursday issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for his remarks about Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being “busy sponsoring and offering biryani in Shaheen Bagh” at a rally last week.

The commission asked the chief minister to respond by Friday 5 pm. However, campaigning for the Assembly elections ended at 6 pm today.

“Criticism of the other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided,” the poll body said in a statement. The panel said prima facie Adityanath has violated provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.

Adityanath was one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s key campaigners for the elections.

“Earlier, it was Congress that used to feed biryani in Kashmir, now it is Kejriwal who is doing the same in Shaheen Bagh,” Adityanath had said at a rally in Karawal Nagar Chowk on February 1. He had also accused Kejriwal of seeking support from Pakistan.

Delhi is set to vote on February 8, and the results will be out on February 11.

Shaheen Bagh is the locality in South Delhi where hundreds of women, along with children, have been peacefully protesting against the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens since December 15. The law has been widely criticised as discriminatory and Indian Muslims fear it could be used along with the citizens’ register to harass and disenfranchise them.

Over the last weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party leaders have focussed hugely on the protests at Shaheen Bagh while campaigning in Delhi. Earlier today Union Minister Giriraj Singh claimed Shaheen Bagh had become a breeding ground for suicide bombers.

On February 4, Modi himself claimed that the protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia University are not a coincidence but an “experiment” and a “conspiracy”. He claimed political parties were behind the protests. On January 31, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the contest in Delhi was between Modi, who conducted surgical strikes against Pakistan, and the Aam Aadmi Party which backs the Shaheen Bagh protestors. In earlier rallies, Shah had asked people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party so that there will “never be a Shaheen Bagh” in Delhi.

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