Amid Amit Shah’s promise of free darshan of Ramlalla during MP poll campaign, Uddhav Thackeray seeks clarification from ECI whether parties can use religion in assembly & LS polls in 2024

Claims of double standards applied by ECI are intriguing yet understandable given the fact that the poll body

Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday sought clarification from the Election Commission of India about whether the political parties can use religion in the course of state Assembly and Lok Sabha elections slated for 2024. ‘’That will help all political parties for we will get to know what the Commission believes are the contours of the standards required when it comes to the use of religion, religious symbols, idioms and language including propagating Hindutva, consistent with the standards adopted by the Commission in the past. That will ensure that the Commission does not apply double standards in this regard,’’said Thackeray in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner.

The trigger was the utterances made by the BJP leaders during the election campaign in Madhya Pradesh seeking vote on the ground of religion. Thackeray was referring to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech in which he has called the public to elect BJP in power on a promise to arrange free of cost darshan of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya, once elected. ‘’Pertinently, Shri Shah also reminded the voters about the cost implication of having darshan of Ramlala and promised that everyone will have free darshan once the BJP is re-elected in Madhya Pradesh. Hon Prime Minister, who addressed a public rally during Karnataka assembly elections, overtly appealed to the people at large to chant ‘Bajrang Bali ki Jai’ and press the voting button of EVM. Further, Shri Shah’s promise should not be confined to the people of Madhya Pradesh but be made applicable to all Hindu citizens of India that too as many times as they wish according to their convenience,’’ he said.

Thackeray explained that the reason to seek elaboration in this regard has been because there was a time when no politician dared to utter a word about one’s religion. ‘’It was only the founding father of our party Hinduriday Samrat Shri Balasaheb Thackeray who coined the phrase ‘Garv se  Kaho Hum Hindu Hain’ and proclaimed the ‘Nirman of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya’ with a slogan ‘Mandir wahi banayenge,’ however, under the terminology of ‘’corrupt practices’’ he was banned from exercising his voting right, the fundamental right accorded to a person in Democracy, for six years for about his religion during an election campaign,’’ he said.

Thackeray claimed that the double standards applied by the Commission are intriguing, yet understandable given the fact that the poll body is publicly perceived to be in alignment with whatever BJP does during the elections and even otherwise.

Thackeray however, did not forget to commend the Commission for its supervision and monitoring of the ongoing Assembly elections in the five states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

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