The Election Commission expressed "displeasure" at Gadkari's reported remarks asking voters to accept bribe during campaigning in Maharashtra Assembly polls.
In its order, which also carried excerpts of Gadkari's response to the Commission's show cause notice, EC said "irrespective of whatever intentions you might have had, such statements clearly bring disrepute to the purity of our elections as well as the integrity of the democratic process."
Expressing "displeasure", EC said it expects Gadkari to be "more circumspect in your public utterances in future."
Responding to the show cause, Gadkari told the EC that "the entire tenor of my speech was to denigrate any attempt to allure/induce voters through any unlawful means. This was done by me through humour and sarcasm. At this point, I would also like to underscore the absence to humour in our present public life. I would urge you to consider carefully the humorous tone in which I spoke..."
Gadkari pleaded that the EC should not interpret his "observations as exhortations to the atmosphere of bribing for vote-seeking. On the contrary, in my own humble way, I was trying to appeal to the electorate not to succumb by fulfilling the purpose for which such alleged inducements might be offered in any form by any quarters."
He said he has the highest regard for the model code of conduct and he has "never uttered a word" that could be construed as a violation of the model code.
But the poll panel rejected his submission saying it "cannot accept" his stand that he intended to address the problem of unethical inducements to voters in a humorous and sarcastic manner by telling the electorate not to get perturbed by the unholy attempts by political parties.
In its show cause notice issued earlier this week, the EC said that Gadkari, while addressing a public meeting in Nilenga Assembly constituency on October 5, had allegedly made "statements to the effect of inducing the voters to take bribe if offered by someone and then decide how to vote".
The former BJP president had allegedly said in Marathi that "now, I am watching your faces and I have some skill of predicting the future by way of face reading. You have an opportunity of 'Laxmi darshan' in next 10 days. Special people to get foreign made, ordinary people to get local brand... "All are Gandhivadis asking for Rs 5000. In these days of inflation, keep one thing in mind, eat what you wish and drink what you desire. Keep whatever you get. This is the time when illegally earned money can go to the poor. Therefore, do not say no to Laxmi. But think while you vote. Your vote should be for the development of Maharashtra."
Maharashtra is going to polls on October 15 and the model code came into force on September 12.
(With PTI inputs)