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Election Commission asks politicians to stay off religion while campaigning

The Election Commission on Sunday termed invoking of religious sentiments to seek votes as an “unhealthy trend”, and asked politicians to desist from making communally volatile remarks while campaigning.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 26, 2017 11:49 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Hindustan Times
Election Commission,Religious sentiments,Political parties
UNITED IN DEMOCRACY: Two burkha-clad Muslim women and a Hindu sadhu display their inked fingers after voting in the municipal polls at Beawar, Rajasthan, recently. (PTI file photo)

The Election Commission on Sunday termed invoking of religious sentiments to seek votes as an “unhealthy trend”, and asked politicians to desist from making communally volatile remarks while campaigning.

In a letter sent to the leaders of all political parties, the poll panel advised them to observe “self-imposed restraint” while campaigning. “The commission has noted with dismay that (past) advisories are not having the desired result. It has witnessed a disturbing tendency of inflammatory statements being made by political leaders with the underlying object of mixing religion with electoral campaigning,” it read.

The poll watchdog said that while some of the statements were made from places where the model code of conduct is not in force, it was easy in this electronic age for them to reach areas where elections are being contested and “disturb the level playing field” for other candidates.

Citing a Supreme Court verdict passed earlier this year, the commission also asked politicians to refrain from making statements that can be misconstrued as attacks on other religious communities. “The hon’ble apex court of the country has also expressed its deep concern in the matter of mixing religion with election campaigning, vide its order dated 02.01.2017 in civil appeal no. 37 of 1992 (Abhiram Singh vs CD Commachen) and with civil appeal no. 8339 of 1995,” the letter read.

This letter follows a probe by the commission against Uttar Pradesh’s BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya for wearing the party symbol while casting his vote at a booth in Allahabad.

First Published: Feb 26, 2017 11:29 IST