The Election Commission on Friday asked its officials in states not to give permission to organisations to hold non-political camps like yoga shivirs if there is possibility that such platforms could be used to campaign for a particular party.
The Commission’s latest directive came against the backdrop of complaints by political parties that yoga guru Ramdev was using his programmes to campaign for BJP.
EC said it has come to its notice that in certain places while permission was sought by organisations to hold apolitical activities like yoga camps, the platform was used for political campaigning “in clear violation of the conditions on which the permission was granted.”
The Commission has cautioned all state Chief Electoral Officers to check the antecedents of the organisers before granting permission to hold such camps or shivirs.
“If there is a possibility of such misuse, or such a permission has been misused by either the organiser or the participants on earlier occasions, the permission should not be given,” EC said.
It asked its state officials to inform it as well as CEOs of all other states if such a violation has taken place in their state.
Congress candidates have approached the EC complaining that camps of Ramdev and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are being used to support BJP and Modi and there should a ban on them till the election process is over.
A recent order of the EC states that “there shall be no formal and publicised inaugural or closing ceremony with political functionaries as chief guests and special invitees,” at such camps.
Ramdev’s camp was recently addressed by BJP PM nominee Narendra Modi, following which the yoga guru was issued a notice by the poll authorities for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
The order makes it clear that any direct or indirect political message from the camp will be viewed seriously and the entire expenditure will be treated as having made on election campaigning and booked under relevant provisions of the election expenditure of contesting candidates under election laws.