Kerala

Don’t use Sabarimala to garner votes, says CEO

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena holds discussions with representatives of political parties in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena holds discussions with representatives of political parties in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.  

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Asks parties to ensure that Electon Commission’s model code of conduct is strictly followed for Lok Sabha election

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena asserted on Wednesday that he had not banned discussion on any issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, but using Sabarimala in a “'religious context” to garner votes would constitute a clear violation of the model code of conduct.

Lobbing the ball into political parties’ court, Mr. Meena said it was up to them to ensure that the line was not crossed.

“The responsibility lies with them (political parties) as to what extent they will use the issue. I've told them that it is up to them,” he told reporters after holding discussions with political parties here.

“Sabarimala is a religious place. You should not invoke Lord Ayyappa's name to get votes. It is very clear,” he said, citing the stipulation. “No use of temples/mosques/churches/gurudwaras or any place of worship for election propaganda, including speeches, posters, music, etc., or electioneering.”

“It (using Lord Ayyappa's name to appeal for votes) has a religious connotation. As for the rest, they are free to discuss any issue,” he said, asserting that the election process is a thoroughly secular exercise.

Stating that his office would be “ruthless” in enforcing the model code of conduct, Mr. Meena said he intended to examine each potential case of violation on the basis of reports filed by the police and the returning officer.

Parties’ concern

At Wednesday's meeting, Mr. Meena briefed political parties on the use of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail), the cVIGIL app and the enforcement of green protocol.

Political parties, on their part, expressed concern regarding the expenditure that would be incurred on placing media advertisements on the criminal antecedents of candidates, Mr. Meena said.

Political parties and candidates are required to publicise the details of criminal cases involving their candidates through television and newspapers on three separate occasions.

The costs would be added to the election expenditure of the candidates.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 3:54:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/dont-use-sabarimala-to-garner-votes-says-ceo/article26525910.ece

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