Ahead of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission of India has issued an advisory to all political parties asking them to desist from using photographs of defence personnel in political advertisements or poll campaigning. In the general advisory addressed to all “recognized national/state political parties”, the ECI pointed out that it had been brought to the notice of the commission that some political parties were using defence personnel photographs in advertisements as part of their political campaigns.
Citing its December 2013 letter to all political parties, the commission reminded them of the instructions issued therein and told them to ensure strict compliance.
“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 part of their election propaganda and requested the Commission to issue suitable instruction in this regard,” the letter dated 4 December 2013 had communicated to the parties.
The advisory issued on Saturday added: “…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 the political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the Armed Forces in their political campaigns.”
The ECI said it was of the view that photographs of the Chief of Army Staff or any other defence personnel and that of functions of defence forces “should not be associated with or used in any manner in advertisement/ propaganda/campaigning or in any other manner in connection with elections by political parties and candidates”.
The commission called upon all political parties to advise their candidates and leaders to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel or functions involving them in advertisements, or as part of their campaigning for elections.
“You are, therefore, requested to issue appropriate instructions to your candidates/leaders/cadres in this regard to ensure compliance in the matter,” the ECI said.