The Election Commission of India has warned religious bodies against evoking religious sentiments in favour or against any candidate and threatened that if any candidate gives permission to any religious body to campaign for them or to evoke sentiments action will be taken against the candidate.
“Based on the recent Supreme Court order, we have received guidelines from the election commission that action can be taken against the candidate,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Narayan Navti said.
When asked about religious leaders using their privilege to campaign for candidates, Navti said that religious bodies including Catholic, Hindu and Muslim have been asked by the Commission to promote ethical voting and there would be no problem if they did so.
Navti, however, said that religious educational institutions could be used for campaigning if the management had no problem, it would not affect the schedule of the educational institution and the candidate has permission from the district election authorities.
Meanwhile, a senior church official has welcomed the Election Commission’s decision to allow religious institutions to guide people on ethical voting.
“I welcome the EC directive on letting the religious leaders to guide the people on ethical voting. The Church in Goa has always followed sound ethical principles in issuing guidelines,” said Fr Victor Ferrao, professor at Rachol Seminary.
“I am only concerned about how some parties use our guidelines to polarise voters. I think the Election Commission has to act on the misuse of directives of church by some communal forces to churn out reverse polarisation,”