M A I N   N E W S

Leave religion alone, EC tells parties
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
Maharashtra goes to the polls on October 13 to elect a new Assembly during the Ganesh festival, the most popular festival in the state which was used as a platform for political mobilisation during freedom struggle.

However, the political parties of independent India would have to desist from using religious sentiments to garner support in their favour. That's the warning issued by the Election Commission.

"Religious sentiments should not be used for political purposes. This applies to all political parties. There are enough provision in the Indian Penal Code to proceed against if religious celebrations are patently politicised," said the Chief Election Commissioner, Mr T.S. Krishna Murthy, here today.

On the concern expressed in certain quarters that the "Tiranga yatra" by Uma Bharti, which is expected to pass through Maharashtra en route to Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab, could vitiate the atmosphere in the western Indian state, the CEC said, "The state concerned has enough powers. We do not proceed on assumptions. When the problem comes, adequate action will be taken either by the state government or the EC.

Earlier, addressing a meeting of poll observers, who would be deployed for overseeing the elections for Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh Assemblies and byelections to four Lok Sabha and 40 Assembly seats, said they should perform the duty in an unbiased and neutral manner.

Suggesting a "code of ethics" for poll observers, Mr Krishna Murthy said the 250 observers, to be deployed for poll duty in the elections to be held in October, should conduct as neutral observers.

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