The Election Commission (EC) has decided to keep a close eye on the the Kullu Dussehra festival,set to begin at the historic Dhalpur ground on October 24,to prevent major political players,particularly the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP),from using the festival to woo voters.
Beside ordering a complete videography of the Dussehra,the EC has issued detailed guidelines to the Kullu deputy commissioner Amandeep Garg to send regular updates on the activities at the festival.
Deputy Election Commissioner Dr Alok Shukla had visited Kullu about two days back to take stock of the poll preparedness,especially steps being taken to video-monitor the inaugural function of the Dussehra,when Lord Raghunaths rath yatra reaches the Dhalpur ground.
Lord Raghunath is the ruling deity of Kullu and Maheshwar Singh raja of Kullu happens to be its principal kardar (care-taker). He has filed his nomination as a HLP candidate from the Kullu Assembly constituency.
The election body,however,has made it clear that it will not interfere with the celebrations. There is the possibility of the festival or Maheshwar Singhs role as the main kardar being used by parties and it could become a big issue for other contesting candidates in Kullu district. The EC will not interference in the celebrations of Dussehra as its a matter of tradition and faith of the people, an EC official said.
The Commission has decided to ban party flags at the festival site and no poll rallies will be allowed close to the Dhalpur ground.
The HLP,on the other hand,has dismissed suggestions that the festival will be used for political gains. Maheshwar Singh is an veteran leader,who has contested a number of elections. Its a religious duty that he performs diligently every year. He has never mixed this role with politics, Tikku Thakur,the HLP spokesperson.