In the backdrop of yoga guru Ramdev's 'honeymoon' remark against Rahul Gandhi, the Election Commission has come out with fresh guidelines barring people from making "malicious" statements about the private life of individuals and said those violating the directive would not be allowed to hold programmes during polls. The EC also cautioned people against invoking religion as it may create disharmony.
The chief electoral officers of states have been directed that those who violate the latest guidelines "should not be allowed" to hold programmes during the period of elections.
It also said in case of violations, appropriate remedial and penal action should be initiated immediately. "They (people) should not indulge in any activities or make any statements that would amount to attack on personal life of any person or statements that may be malicious or offending decency and morality," the EC said without naming Ramdev.
The poll panel said it has received complaints from various quarters that some social, cultural or religious organisations, associations and formations were making appeals to electors "amounting to election campaign" in favour of or against certain political parties or candidates by holding congregations, yoga camps, conclaves, meetings and processions. "These complaints also point out that some of these organisations/associations, in their campaign, are also invoking religion and are playing on the religious sentiments of electors to whom such appeals are addressed," the EC said.
Two separate FIRs were filed against Ramdev yesterday, including one by Uttar Pradesh police, for his controversial remarks made in Lucknow on Friday that Rahul Gandhi visited the homes of Dalits for "honeymoon and picnic". The EC directive referred to complaints being received that certain organisations were using their programmes for electioneering.
The panel said organisers of such programmes "should not invoke, in any manner, religion or religious grounds or indulge in any activities that are likely to create disharmony among different classes or groups of people, in their campaign".