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Kerala poll body warns parties against use of Sabarimala issue in campaigning

Thiruvananthapuram | The State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday warned political parties in Kerala not to use the Sabarimala temple matter as a campaign issue.

Kerala Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Teeka Ram Meena told the media here that “citing or invoking” religious propaganda on the “Sabarimala issue” would be a clear violation of the model code of conduct.

“Inviting religious feelings, using any kind of Supreme Court judgement, invoking or soliciting the votes in the name of religion or by inciting religious feelings is a clear violation of the model code of conduct,” he said.

The CEC also said the commission would not allow any kind of violation that puts a particular political party at an advantage over another. “Citing or invoking or doing something of religious propaganda on the Sabarimala issue by invoking the name of Sabari God, etc., will be a clear violation of the model code of conduct,” Meena said.

He added that the Sabarimala issue was a controversial matter as far as Kerala was concerned and political parties “need to draw a line to what extent they have to use it”. “Tomorrow, I am holding a meeting with political parties in this regard and I will be requesting them not to unnecessarily use this religious feeling or religious traditions to solicit votes as this may create some religious tensions among people. If that happens, action will be taken against those responsible,” Meena said.

Kerala witnessed widespread violence by devotees and right-wing activists after the state government decided to implement the Supreme Court’s September 28, 2018 verdict allowing women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple.

The BJP has already pinned its hope on the Sabarimala issue as it believes that it was able to create a momentum among its workers.

The central leadership of the saffron party brought back former BJP state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan, who was appointed as Mizoram governor nine months ago, to lead the party in the state.

The Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue for over a month till May 19 across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23. Kerala will go to the polls on April 23.

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