World news – Election Commission defends use of armed forces in tweet on Bengali polls

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The electoral commission defended its use of the armed forces in a tweet, viewed by some as a violation of their own rules, calling on voters to vote in the final stages of the Bengal elections.

The electoral body said , the model code – which warns against involving the armed forces in election campaigns – is only applicable to political parties and their election strategies and materials and is not applicable in this case. The commission said their tweet was only intended to educate people about the importance of the vote.

« In the present case, what mileage and for whom a mileage is requested by the commission by sending an appeal … », the polling station asked, adding: « … please see the text of the ad … be clear, if defense personnel can give their lives fighting for the nation, why shouldn’t voters leave their homes? » and kick the stove to come to the polling station and vote freely and fearlessly? « 

The tweet in question was published on Saturday when Bengal was voting in the final phase of the poll.

Below this text is the silhouette of Amar Jawan Jyoti – a war memorial under India Gate in Delhi, honoring Indian soldiers who died for their country during the war with Pakistan in 1971.

The poster also borrows the « common man » of the legend er caricaturist RK Laxman, who pays homage to the memorial, says: « Voting is not only your right, it’s your duty too. Fearlessly cast your vote. « 

Reference to the armed forces during the elections is prohibited by two recommendations of the Electoral Commission, the last of which was in March 2019 – weeks before the start of the Lok Sabha election.

This one Remembrance was needed by political leaders who brazenly piggybacked on the army amid air strikes on a Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM) terrorist camp in Balakot, Pakistan.

Examples of this piggyback were posters by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah with Air Force Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was hailed as a national hero after shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet on February 27th.

Dear Indian Electoral Commission, is this allowed? Use the photo of one Serving soldiers on political posters. If not, will you take action? pic.twitter.com/IiGUkphZWM

The electoral body responded by claiming that the armed forces were n « apolitical and neutral actors in a modern democracy » and urged political parties across the country not to use photos of defense personnel on billboards or posters in the run-up to the election.

« It is therefore necessary that political parties and Leaders exercise great caution while referring to the armed forces in their political campaigns, « the electoral commission had said.

The Commission’s model code enforced during campaigning and voting is allowed, as stated in its statement to be followed only by political parties. The electoral body is not bound by them, but breaking the rule makes it difficult to punish others for committing similar violations.

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