Invoking Sabarimala a Violation of Model Code of Conduct: Kerala Chief Electoral Officer

Any party seeking electoral gains based on "pro-Hindu" or "anti-Hindu" sentiments will be subject to action, says Kerala's Chief Electoral Officer.

New Delhi: Kerala chief electoral officer Teeka Ram Meena on Monday warned candidates against raising the issue of the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple during election campaigning. He said bringing it up would amount to a violation of the Elections Commission’s model code of conduct.

Speaking to ANI, Meena cautioned against the use of religious issues during campaigns and said, “Citing/invoking or doing some sort of religious propaganda based on Sabarimala issue/judgement will be a clear violation of the model code of conduct and we will be taking action.”

“Sabarimala can be used politically, but it can’t be used to instigate the religious feelings particularly that of Hindus; that will not be accepted. It shouldn’t be given a religious dimension, or used to invoke sentiments of a particular religious community or a particular religious group or against another group or political party,” Meena told the News Minute.

Also read: Modi Attacking Kerala Govt Over Sabarimala Diminishes the Office of Prime Minister

He added that any party seeking electoral gains based on “pro-Hindu” or “anti-Hindu” sentiments would be subject to appropriate action from the Election Commission.

The CEO also said that the State Election Commission intended to hold a discussion in this regard with political parties on Tuesday.

Kerala will go to polls in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 23 to elect 20 MPs.

The BJP and the Congress-led United Democratic Front have led several protest marches against Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government’s decision to implement the apex court’s verdict on Sabarimala.

Kerala witnessed widespread protests from frenzied devotees over the LDF government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict, allowing women of all ages to enter the hilltop shrine. During the annual pilgrimage season, over two dozen women devotees unsuccessfully attempted to trek the hill.

After incorrectly claiming that 51 women had entered the Sabarimala temple, the Kerala government revised its claim to state that only two women, Kanakadurga (44) and Bindhu (42), offered prayers at the shrine on January 2.