EC asks political parties not use army men photos in campaign

 The Election Commission has directed political parties to resist from using photos of army men in their campaign materials. Asserting that the armed forces are “apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy”,  it has asked political parties across the country to not use photographs of defence personnel on hoardings or posters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

This direction was issued to all political parties following complaint against  billboards featuring BJP leaders such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah along with Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman came up in certain parts of the national capital. “Everything is possible under PM Modi,” the billboards read.

It may be recalled that return of Pakistan captured pilot two days later, was attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts by many BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani.

In this regard, Election Commission has referred to its earlier direction sent to all political parties way back on December 4, 2013, that gave reasons for not using the armed forces in 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,” an extract from the earlier notice noted.

“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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