Sabarimala to make electioneering contentious

Sabarimala to make electioneering contentious

The Sabarimala row is all set to be the most contentious issue during electioneering in Kerala with the state chief electoral officer reiterating at a meeting with parties representatives that using the row for soliciting votes would amount to a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

The meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday reportedly witnessed heated arguments between the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena and representatives of political parties, including BJP.

BJP state president P Sreedharan Pillai told reporters after the meeting that BJP would obviously raise the Sabarimala issue during the electioneering, but would not use it to trigger communal disturbances. The CEO had clarified that, he said.

The CEO said that there was no blanket ban on using the Sabarimala issue.

As per the Model Code of Conduct, using Lord Ayyappa's or Sabarimala temple's picture to solicit votes might amount to triggering communal sentiment or soliciting votes on the basis of religion.

However, political issues related to Sabarimala can be raised during the electioneering.

The Model Code of Conduct mentions the following don’ts: no appeals on the basis of caste or communal feelings of electors; no activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes or communities or religious or linguistic groups shall be attempted; no use of temples or mosques or churches or gurudwaras or any place of worship for election propaganda, including speeches, posters and music for electioneering.

Meena said that in case of any complaints of MCC violation, the election commission would initiate necessary legal actions after verification.

While representatives of the Congress-led UDF later said that they would also raise the Sabarimala issue without triggering religious sentiments, representatives of the CPM-led Left front said that BJPs intentions of seeking votes over the Sabarimala issue was now very evident.

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