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What action against parties using anti-Muslim rhetoric, CEC has no answer

The CEC also did not have any satisfactory answer to the question regarding fake news spread on different social media platforms

Sunday March 10, 2019 8:41 PM, ummid.com News Network

CEC on anti-Muslim Politics

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) Sunil Arora Sunday had no answer to the question on action the Poll Panel might take against political parties indulging in anti-Muslim rhetoric.

"There are so many constituencies in the country where Muslims are in a large number. What action the Election Commission of India intends to take against the political parties that indulged in anti-Muslim rhetoric to polarise votes", a journalist posed a pointed question to Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora.

Arora ignored the question and skipped to answer other questions raised during the press conference called to announce the schedule of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

After few minutes the journalist repeated his question, pleading the Poll Panel Chief for an answer. The CEC however refused to answer the question relating to the communal card played by some political parties in the country to win elections.

Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora also did not have any satisfactory answer to the question raised by another journalist regarding fake news spread on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

"Google and Twitter are foreign companies. They had earlier refused to appear before a parliamentary panel. What if they do not comply to your request to place a curb on fake news?" a journalist asked.

Arora however could not satisfactorily answer the question even as concerns are raised that after elections is in Brazil, India too is at risk of an election which could be "skewed" by WhatsApp.

The Supreme Court of India had in a judgement banned political candidates from seeking election on the basis of religion, caste or language. But, despite the court's order use and misuse of religion and caste are rampant in the elections in India.

Arora was also asked about violations of Election Code of Conduct by political parties. "Parties freely violate election code of conduct as they know no serious action will be taken against them. Are you planning to take some action to set an example", CEC was asked. But he did not give any satisfactory answer.

Arora however announced a number of measures that he said will be in place to hold a "free and fair elections".

Earlier, announcing the 2019 Election schedule Sunil Arora said there will be 07 phase polls this time starting from April 11.

"Polling for the 1st Phase (91 seats in 20 states) on April 11, 2nd Phase (97 seats in 13 states) will be held on April 18, the 3rd Phase (115 seats in 14 states) on April 23, the 4th Phase (71 seats in 9 states) on April 29, 5th Phase (51 seats in 7 states) on May 06, 6th Phase (59 seats in 7 states) on May 12 and 7th Phase (59 seats in 8 states) on May 19, 2019", he said.

Arora also said that state elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh will be held simultaneously with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"State elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held later no, he said.

"Counting of votes will be held on May 23, 2019 and all results will be declared on the same day", he said.

"The Lok Sabha election 2019 schedule has been finalised keeping in mind many factors including CBSE and board exams, weather condition and festivals ", Sunil Arora said.

"Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used at all polling stations across the country", the CEC said adding that polling stations this time will be 10% more than in 2014.

"Along with party symbols, faces of candidates will also be there on all EVMs - a first in this election", Arora said.

"Model poll of conduct comes into effect across the country from today. All political parties are requested to strictly follow the rules", he added.

Arora also said that number of voters has increased from 81 crore to 90 crore in 2019.

Earlier, the announcement of 2019 election schedule was delayed by about a week if compared with 2014 when the poll schedule was out on March 05.

The Election Commission has received flak from a section for the delay. Critics accused the Election Commission of giving time to Prime Minister Modi who is on an "inauguration spree". According to a rough estimate, Modi, accused of poor performance in the last five years, has inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of 157 projects in the last 30 days.

The term of the current Lok Sabha ends on June 03. Last year Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 26, 2014. In 2014, the BJP had bagged majority on its own by winning 282 seats in Lok Sabha. The NDA won 336 seats. The opposition Congress had won just 44 seats.

Ahead of the announcement of the election dates, the election panel has asked the poltical parties to keep armed forces out of their poll campaigns.

"It is pertinent to mention here that the Armed Forces of a nation are the guardian of its frontiers, security and the political system. They are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy. It is therefore necessary that political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the Armed Forces in their political campaigns," The EC said in a notice sent to all political parties.

"The Commission accordingly calls upon all political parties to advise their candidates/leaders to desist from displaying photographs of Defence personnel or photographs of functions involving Defence personnel in advertisements or otherwise as part of their election propaganda/campaigning," it added, demanding strict compliance from the parties concerned.

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