UP polls: After communal references, EC asks parties not to raise religion, caste issues

This comes at a time when the use of caste and religion based acronyms has gone up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

UP polls: After communal references, EC asks parties not to raise religion, caste issues

The Election Commission of India has written to various political parties after recently used “inflammatory statements” and has asked them to avoid the remarks that are “against not only the words but also the spirit of the law and the MCC (model code of conduct).”

This comes at a time when the use of caste and religion based acronyms has gone up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

In a political rally on February 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Samajwadi Party government of discriminating on grounds of religion, “If a village gets a

kabristan (graveyard), it should get a shamshaan (cremation ground) too. If there is electricity during Ramzan, there should be electricity during Diwali too. If there is electricity during Holi, there should be electricity during Eid too.”

Soon thereafter, at a rally in the Chauri Chaura Assembly segment, BJP president Amit Shah came up with the ‘Kasab’ acronym to describe his party’s rivals, saying, “Ka se Congress, Sa se Samajwadi Party aur B se (BSP).”

Even though PM’s statement wasn’t a direct breach of the modal code of conduct, it was an ostensible attack on the opposition on religious line. The comparison caused outrage among the Opposition.  Other parties

Other parties aren't behind in using communal references. At a rally in Fatehpur on February 19, PTI quoted Mayawati as telling people at a rally in Deoria on Saturday that “Muslims need to vote en masse for the BSP… if Muslims vote for the BSP, the BJP will get a setback and it will not be able to come to power in the state”.

The EC letter, dated February 25 and addressed to the “president/general secretary/secretary of all recognized national and state political parties”, states that the Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides that politicians “should desist from making statements, which have the effect of creating disharmony and ill-will between different sections of society on the ground of religion, caste, greed, community and language, as the same disturb peace and tranquillity of the society which is absolutely essential for free and fair conduct of elections”.

The letter further quotes the Supreme Court, which “has also recently expressed its deep concern in the matter of mixing religion and caste with election campaign”. The letter said the Commission “notes with dismay” that its “advisories are not having the desired results” and that it had “recently noted a disturbing tendency of inflammatory statements”.