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CPI(M) joins debate on misuse of religion

The CPI(M) on Thursday became the first political party to intervene in the ongoing Supreme Court hearing on whether seeking votes in the name of religion or caste amounted to “corrupt practices” under the Representation of the People’s (RP) Act.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2016 01:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Representation of the People,votes,election
CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. (Raj K Raj/ HT File Photo)

The CPI (M) on Thursday joined the debate over misuse of religion for electoral gains, adding a political twist to the hearing in the Supreme Court that reserved its verdict on the contentious issue.

In its application for intervention, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury maintained that his party is also an affected party in this debate.

Yechury’s counsel senior advocate Sanjay Hedge advanced the arguments on a day when the bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur reserved its verdict on the interpretation of section 123 (3) of the Representation of People’s Act. The law does not allow a candidate or his representative from the party to appeal to voters in the name of religion, caste and creed.

“All that we want to know is if an appeal is made for votes in the name of his religion, then what is the meaning of the word his? Is it the religion of candidates or religion of agent or religion of the third party (seeking votes) or religion of voters or that of all of them?” the bench observed.

The CPI (M), one of the six national parties of the country, became the first political entity to voluntarily join the legal debate in the apex court over the contentious issue.

Yechury also took the opportunity to target the RSS. “With the communal and fascistic RSS-led combine’s assuming power at the centre, systematic efforts are on to communalise the institutions of the state, the administration, the education system and the media.”

He also added, “The growth of majority communalism will strengthen the forces of minority communalism and endanger national unity.”

The CPI(M)’s late move, underlining its secular credentials and also seeking an opportunity to launch attack on the BJP establishment, however, faced time constraints in the apex court.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, referred to various provisions of the law related to election petitions.

First Published: Oct 27, 2016 18:19 IST