No appeal on caste or religious basis, don't ridicule devotee-deity relation: EC warns parties

| | New Delhi
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No appeal on caste or religious basis, don't ridicule devotee-deity relation: EC warns parties

Friday, 01 March 2024 | PTI | New Delhi

No appeal on caste or religious basis, don't ridicule devotee-deity relation: EC warns parties

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission on Friday asked parties and their leaders to refrain from seeking votes on the basis of caste, religion and language, and not insult the devotee-deity relation or make any suggestion of a divine censure.

Temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras or any other place of worship should not be used for poll propaganda or electioneering, the commission said in its advisory to parties, warning their candidates and star campaigners they will face stern action, rather than just 'moral censure' as is the practice, for any violation of Model Code of Conduct.

The poll authority has issued advisories to parties in the past too, but the latest one comes ahead of the parliamentary elections.

It said that the star campaigners and candidates who have received notices in past will face stern action for repeat violation of model code.

The advisory comes days before the model code is expected to come into effect with the likely announcement of the Lok Sabha and four state assembly polls later this month.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had recently emphasised that political parties should foster ethical and respectful discourse which inspire rather than divide, promote ideas instead of personal attacks.

The Commission's advisory has now formally set the stage for ethical political discourse and cut the clutter in 2024 General Elections, an official said, adding the methodical approach to MCC violations has prepared the ground for civilised campaigning.

It cautioned that all phases and geographical area of elections will be the basis to determine "repeat" offences of the poll code and its advisory.

The EC warned the parties to maintain decorum in public campaigning and put additional responsibility on star campaigners and candidates, especially those who were issued notices in the past.

It asked the parties to raise the level of election campaign to issue-based debate and said the parties and their leaders should not make statements without factual basis or mislead the voters.

The advisory also covered social media engagements, saying posts vilifying or insulting rivals, posts that are in bad taste or below dignity should not to made or shared.

The EC asked political parties and candidates to refrain from any deeds or action or utterances that may be construed as being repugnant to the honour and dignity of women.

In a note of caution to parties, candidates and star campaigners, it asked them to refrain from giving unverified and misleading advertisements in the media. It also said advertisements masquerading as news items should also not be issued.   The Commission also flagged some instances of indirect or surrogate model code violations as noticed during previous elections. These include use of inappropriate and at times abusive vocabulary against star campaigners of other parties.

The advisory acknowledged that social media has blurred the lines between pre-model code period and the 48-hour silence period ahead of voting day, leading to persistent circulation of content across multiple phases of campaigning and even unrelated elections.

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