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Thackeray Challenges Election Commission’s Stance on Religious Appeals in Campaigns

Uddhav Thackeray Questions Election Commission's Silence on Religious Appeals in Election Campaigns

December 05, 2023: In a bold move, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has raised significant concerns about the use of religious appeals during election campaigns and the Election Commission’s apparent silence on the matter. Thackeray’s concerns were sparked by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election campaign during the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, where they prominently featured issues of God and religion.

During the campaign, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that if the BJP came to power in the state, free darshan (sight) of Ram Lalla at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya would be offered to all, with the government bearing the expenses. This drew attention and criticism from Thackeray, who objected to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to voters in Karnataka, urging them to vote by chanting ‘Bajrang Bali Ki Jai.’

Uddhav Thackeray took his concerns to the Election Commission, questioning whether it is a crime to seek votes in the name of God and religion during election campaigns. Surprisingly, there has been no response from the Election Commission to Thackeray’s letter, prompting him to express his displeasure. Thackeray stated, “We will campaign in the upcoming elections by chanting ‘Jai Bhavani… Jai Shivaji,’ ‘Har Har Mahadev,’ ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya.'”

Thackeray further highlighted the apparent inconsistency in the Election Commission’s actions, recalling an incident involving his father, Balasaheb Thackeray, a prominent leader known for addressing Hindu issues. Balasaheb Thackeray faced a ban on contesting elections for six years for his remarks on the Ram temple, and his basic voting rights were revoked. Uddhav Thackeray emphasized that when he sought clarification on Amit Shah’s statement, the Election Commission remained silent, raising questions about the Commission’s stance on religious appeals in politics.

In a press statement, Uddhav Thackeray asked, “What do we mean by this? If there is no response, does it imply that seeking votes in the name of God and religion is acceptable?” Thackeray warned that his party would openly campaign on Hindutva issues, chanting slogans such as ‘Jai Bhavani… Jai Shivaji,’ ‘Har Har Mahadev,’ ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya,’ and challenged the Election Commission to take a clear stand on the matter. The silence of the Election Commission on this crucial issue raises questions about the regulatory body’s role in maintaining the fairness and secular nature of election campaigns.

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