The EC directive came at time when use of caste and religion based acronyms has gone up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Miffed over recently used “inflamatory statements”, the Election Comission of India has directed parties to comply with the spirit of law and the MCC. Writing to various political parties, the EC asked to avoid the remarks that are “against not only the words but also the spirit of law and the MCC (model code of conduct)”. The EC directive came at time when use of caste and religion based acronyms has gone up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. In his rally at Fatehpur 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.” Three days later, 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).” While PM’s statement wasn’t in direct breach of modal code of conduct, it was an ostensible attack on the opposition on religious line. The comparison caused outrage among the Opposition. Other parties too, have used 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”.
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The letter, undersigned by EC’s Senior Principal Secretary R K Srivastava, 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”.