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EC warns all parties: Will act if you split voters on religion

The EC sent a strongly-worded letter to office-bearers of all recognised political parties, in the wake of the SC’s order barring parties from seeking votes on caste and religious lines.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
January 11, 2017 5:06:41 am
election commissionm ec, ec warns parties, religion votes, religious voters, religion campaign, supreme court, poll campaign, uttar pradesh elections, punjab elections, elections, uttarakhand elections, indian express news, india news The poll panel reminded the parties that the model code already advises parties to “desist from making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between different sections of society on the basis of religion”.

WARNING ALL political parties against dividing voters on communal lines, the Election Commission has said it will not stand by as “a silent spectator” and will take “stern action” if candidates and poll campaigners violate the Supreme Court’s order and the model code of conduct ahead of assembly elections in five states.

The EC sent a strongly-worded letter to office-bearers of all recognised political parties on Tuesday, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order barring parties from seeking votes on caste and religious lines.

The poll panel reminded the parties that the model code already advises parties to “desist from making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between different sections of society on the basis of religion”. Implying that the model code has been further strengthened by the Supreme Court’s order, the EC warned that it will take “stern action for any violation under all powers available”.

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Earlier in the day, the poll panel, taking cognisance of the Congress’s complaint, issued a showcause notice to BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for his offensive remarks purportedly directed at Muslims. He has been asked to submit his explanation by January 11.

Speaking at a religious event in Meerut last week, the BJP leader had said, “Desh mein samasyaein khadi ho rahi hain jansankhya ke karan. Uske liye Hindu zimmedar nahin hain. Zimmedar toh wo hain jo chaar biwion aur chalees bachchon ki baatein karte hain. (There are problems in the country because of population growth.

Hindus are not responsible for that. Those responsible are the ones who talk of four wives and 40 children.)” He also claimed that the money earned from cattle slaughter was being used to fund terrorism.

Sakshi Maharaj made the remarks less than a week after the Supreme Court passed its order barring candidates from seeking votes on caste and religious lines. While the BJP distanced itself from his comments, the BJP MP later claimed that he was misquoted.

An FIR has already been lodged against him under IPC Sections 153B, 295A, 188, 505(3) and 298 for making derogatory remarks against a particular community.

During the 2014 poll campaign, the EC had resorted to its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to ban BJP president Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan from campaigning after repeated violations of the model code. “Nothing stops the EC from doing that again if someone continues to violate the code with impunity,” said an official.

On Tuesday, at a conference organised for all general and police observers for the coming elections, the EC is learnt to have said that a copy of the Supreme Court order will be circulated to all district-level electoral officers, along with instructions empowering them to lodge FIRs under relevant sections of the IPC and the Representation of the People Act if someone is found seeking votes on religious grounds.

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