Cannot guide their followers on whom to vote for; action to be taken against candidates using religious institutions for canvassing
PANJIM: The Chief Electoral Office (CEO) has urged religious heads to create awareness amongst their followers on ethical voting but refrain from guiding whom to vote. It has also warned it will take action against candidates using religious institutions to canvass for them. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has also allowed the use of educational campuses for campaigns during polls.
Addressing media persons on Tuesday, Additional CEO Narayan Navti said, “We have written to religious heads of Hindu, Catholic and Muslim communities asking them to guide their followers on ethical voting.” Responding to a question, Navti said the preaching in Churches is not videographed as “they are preaching about ethical voting”. “This is allowed,” he added.
Navti said social, cultural or religious organisations appealing to the electorate during the election period amounts to election campaign and this is barred.
“If it is done, these organizations are evoking religious sentiments of voters to whom such appeal is addressed,” he said adding that ECI under such instances has instructed that programmes of such persons or organizations be monitored through videography. “Action will be initiated against the candidate if he is found to be using a religious platform for campaigning,” Navti said.
The Joint CEO said law enforcement agencies should take appropriate remedial or penal action against the organizations or candidates violating the guidelines.
Meanwhile, the ECI has issued guidelines for use of schools grounds and campuses for campaigning subject to the condition that the academic year is not disturbed and that the school managements have no objections. “The use of educational campus was banned earlier but from this year onwards, the ECI has granted permission,” Navti said.