New Delhi: In his reply to Election Commission's showcause notice over the minorities' sub-quota remark, Union Steel Minister and Congress leader Beni Prasad Verma on Monday said that the quota remark was part of the party manifesto.
Verma also said that he didn't mean to violate the model code of conduct and expressed his regret that such an impression is created. The Congress leader also said that he respects the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, defending the Union minister on the minorities' sub-quota issue, the Congress on Monday said the party leader holds the poll authority in the highest esteem.
"Certainly, the intent or effect (of what he said) of it was neither to vitiate any law nor to violate any code of conduct," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters shortly after Verma met him.
Noting that Verma is "a very veteran politician", Singhvi said there was no question of slightest disrespect to the EC intended or done in any manner because "I know Verma holds it (Election Commission) in the highest esteem".
Singhvi, who is a senior Supreme Court advocate, said, Verma will request the EC to take a balanced view of the whole thing and make it clear that he did not intend to bring down the dignity of the poll panel even fractionally.
The Commission had issued a showcause notice to the steel minister on Saturday, seeking clarification on his remarks on sub-quota for minorities.
At a rally in Farrukabad on February 15, Verma had said reservations for minorities must be increased and had dared the EC to take action against him.
After elaborating on the "plight" of Muslims and the facilities that his party would provide to the community, Verma had specifically requested people to vote for the Congress.
The Commission, which had seen the video recording of Verma's rally, had said it was prima facie satisfied after seeing the footage that the minister had violated the provisions of the model code of conduct.
(With additional information from PTI)