Don’t use actions of armed forces, places of worship for political propaganda: EC to parties

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 20 March 2019, 07:48 AM
Election Commission of India
Election Commission of India

The Election Commission on Tuesday asked the political parties to desist during their Lok Sabha poll campaigns from indulging in any propaganda involving actions taken by defence forces.

Earlier on March 9, the poll panel asked parties and their candidates to not use pictures of defence force personnel in their campaign material.

"...Parties/candidates are advised that their campaigners/candidates should desist, as part of their election campaigning, from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of defence forces," the advisory issued on Tuesday said.

The commission said the new advisory is in continuation to its earlier one on use of pictures of defence personnel in campaigning.

The latest advisory of the EC comes against the backdrop of complaints against parties for using the armed forces for political gains, especially in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack and the February 26 air strike by the Indian Air Force (IAF) deep inside Pakistan.

The EC's direction came after a picture showing a hoarding with images of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and leaders of a party.

The poll panel also asked parties and religious leaders to refrain from using places of worship for propaganda and also not indulge in activities that may cause tensions between different castes and communities.

The poll body's directions come days after the BJP requested it to appoint special observers at mosques to prevent attempts to "polarise voters on religious lines" during the elections.

"As per the Model Code of Conduct, the use of caste and religion during the election campaign is strictly prohibited," a statement issued by Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer said.

It said no political and religious leader or any other person is "allowed to indulge in any activity that aggravates existing differences or cause tension between different caste or communities, religious or linguistic".

The Election Commission had on March 11 warned parties in Kerala against using the Sabarimala temple matter in their campaigns, saying "citing or invoking" religious propaganda on the issue is a clear violation of the model code of conduct.

In January 2017, the Supreme Court had outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community or language.

The Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue till May 19 across seven phases.

The Model Code of Conduct is in place since March 10 when the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha poll schedule.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 07:48 AM
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