The Election Commission on Tuesday sent a notice to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader A Raja over his derogatory comments about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and his mother while campaigning for the Assembly elections, The Hindu reported.

The poll panel gave Raja, the DMK’s deputy general secretary, time till 6 pm on Wednesday to offer an explanation for his remarks, failing which the panel said it will “take a decision without any further reference” to the former Union minister, according to NDTV.

Issued on a complaint filed by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the EC notice referred to speeches Raja made while campaigning on March 26.

The first one was in Keelapalur, where Raja had said, “Stalin is a child of good relationship and good birth while Edappadi Palanisamy is a child of bad relationship and a premature born child”.

The second speech cited by the Election Commission was given in Meensurutti, where the DMK leader said that Palaniswamy had “crawled and held Sasikala’s feet who is almost equal in age or to say who is six months younger” to him “just for the sake of [becoming] chief minister”.

The commission said it was of of the view that the contents of the speeches made by Raja were “not only derogatory but also obscene and lower the dignity of motherhood of women”. This seemed to be a serious violation of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, it added.

In his speeches, Raja had made several other disparaging statements about Palaniswami, saying that he was “worth a rupee less than [DMK chief MK] Stalin’s slipper”.

“Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in vellamandi [jaggery market], how can he be competition to Stalin?” the DMK leader had said. “The value of Stalin’s chappal is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?”

His comments had sparked public outrage, with AIADMK leaders staging statewide protests demanding Raja’s arrest. In Salem, Palaniswami’s hometown, protestors burnt the DMK leader’s effigies and asked the Election Commission to ban Raja from campaigning for the state Assembly polls, according to PTI.

Palaniswami had broken down while responding to Raja’s comments on Sunday. A day later, Raja apologised, saying he did not intend to defame Palaniswami or his mother, and was only comparing the leadership of DMK President MK Stalin and the Tamil Nadu chief minister.

On Monday, the chief minister also received support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party is allied with the AIADMK in the elections. Modi called Raja an “outdated 2G missile” – a reference to the 2G spectrum scam that had rocked the country – and said this missile launched by the DMK and its ally the Congress wanted to target the women of Tamil Nadu.