Nagpur: In a rare occurrence, the Navratri celebration is coinciding with the period when Model Code of Conduct has come into effect. However, the officials of Election Commission will have their eyes on all venues visited by the candidates of the polls.
However, the candidates contesting the elections are in a dilemma since the Model Code of Conduct is in effect and while these occasions like Ganpathi festival and Navratri celebrations are occasions when thousands of people gather together in one place and is best time to meet people. It is however a proven fact that for ages these leaders, which include the Corporators for their Prabhag (Warda), MLAs for one of the six constituencies interact with the citizens from their area during such occasions. They have been doing this for 100s of years. They have been inaugurating such Navratri Celebrations for years.
Sources said that unlike every year, this year no group is going door to do for collecting funds for the celebration of Navratri Festival. It is very evident where the funds have been pouring in for the idol and for other arrangements.
However, this time round, they will have to be extra cautious. By September 24, 2014, almost all the candidates would be filing their nominations. After they become the candidates, a camera will be following every-where they go and will be recording everything they say.
With Navratri celebrations beginning from September 25, 2014, the Election Commission is going to have its surveillance on all the venues to keep a check if the political parties using these celebrations for political campaigning.
The election commission had issued directives for the political parties a few years ago when the election dates fell close to the Navratri festival. The directives stated that while there is no ban on performing Arti nor is there a prohibition on the participation of leaders or intending candidates in such celebrations or Arti as ordinary participant. However such celebrations should not be used as a platform or forum for election campaigning as that would be violative of the provisions of Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1988.
The directives also said that use of forum/venue of Navratri celebrations for election campaigns by political parties / political functionaries probable candidates etc shall amount to use of religious places/ religion for political purpose/ election campaigning.
The EC had directed the authorities that while granting the necessary permissions to the organizers of these events and venues the following conditions ought to be followed.
- That there shall be no formal inaugural and / or publicized inaugural or closing ceremony with political functionaries as Chief Guest / Special invitees etc.
- That no distribution of publicity material in any medium, print, electronic or digital of any political party shall be permitted at these forums / venues.
- The Organizers of Navratri function should be directed to ensure that the venues of the Navratri celebrations are not used for political campaigning by anyone. Any violation of any of the above mentioned instructions, including by the organizers, will invite strict action under the relevant Laws/Rules and the Model Code of Conduct.
The Collector and the Deputy Collector become the over-all in-charge of the district on behalf of Election Commission. The onus will now rely on them to ensure that there is no violation of the Model Code of Conduct.