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Election Commission directs all political parties not to use photographs of Defence personnel in advertisements & campaigns

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday, in a letter, directed to all the political parties and its leaders to not use the photographs of Defence personnel in advertisements and campaigns as part of their electoral propaganda ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year.

This notice by Election Commission (EC) came after a complaint by the Ministry of Defence. The press statement wrote, “The Ministry of Defence has brought to the notice of the Commission that the photographs of the Defence personnel are being used by the political parties, their leaders and candidates in advertisements as a part of their election propaganda and requested the Commission to issue suitable instruction in this regard.”

According to reports, the notice comes after the billboards featuring the ruling government leaders – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah along with the Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman came up in certain parts of the national capital.

The poster reads the slogan of the BJP for the 2019 campaigns “Modi hai toh mumkin” (Everything is possible under PM Modi).

In the notice, EC brought all the parties’ attention to ECI’s letter dated December 4, 2013, that mentioned the 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,” the statement said.

“The Commission is of the view that photographs of the chief of army staff or any other defence personnel and photographs of functions of defence forces should not be associated with or used in any manner in advertisement/propagand/campaigning or in any other manner in connection with elections by political parties and candidates.”

“The Commission 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 stated demanding a strict compliance in the matter from the parties concerned.

After the release of the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistani authorities after an aerial dogfight with India on February 27, many BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, attributed his immediate release within two days to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts.

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