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BJP 'likely to use' Ram Navmi for religious divide: NGO warns Election Commission

By Our Representative 

A delegation of the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign, which consists of around 30 people's organisations, has expressed the apprehension that Ram Navami, which is on 17th April, is likely to be used by BJP "for religious polarization before the elections." Making a representation before Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jharkhand, K Ravi Kumar, it demanded "fair and peaceful Lok Sabha elections in the state without religious and political interference."
The campaign said, in the last 10 years, the practice by political parties, especially BJP, of influencing voters in the name of religion has increased significantly. Religious festivals, slogans, flags and symbols are being used to create political atmosphere favouring BJP.
It noted, religion-specific flags for programme on 22 January, 2024 put up at public places across the state are yet to be taken down. Banners with the text 'Hindu Rashtra' were also put up at many places. These are being used by BJP and RSS organizations to influence voters.
The campaign said, in the last few years, the use of hate speech and obscene songs targeting minorities, rallies in front of religious places of minorities etc. have increased during Ram Navami. It is possible that all this can be used to religiously polarize voters during elections.
It demanded, religious flags and symbols put up in public places, roads, electricity poles, government offices, police stations, police and paramilitary forces camps etc. during any religious ritual/ festival/ program during the elections should be removed within 48 hours as these could be used t to influence voters.
The campaign told the CEO that in the 2019 elections, there were reports of central security forces personnel trying to influence voters in favour of the BJP. "This time the Commission should strictly monitor the impartiality of the central security forces", it demanded.
Based on a year's ground experience, the campaign apprised the CEO that people's faith in EVMs is decreasing across the state, demanding, in such a situation, transparency and special monitoring of EVM-related processes, should be ensured so that every process is done fairly in front of all the people.
The campaign brought the CEO’s attention to the voting rights of lakhs of migrant workers, asking the Election Commission to consider providing special support to the migrant workers, such as talking to the companies where they work, ensuring adequate leave, ensuring adequate public transport for commuting, etc.
A letter submitted to the CEO was signed by activists Afzal Anees, Aloka Kujur, Ambika Yadav, Bharat Bhushan Choudhary, Dinesh Murmu, Elina Horo, Jyoti Kujur, Kumar Chandra Mardi, Kiran, Lalmohan Singh Kherwar, Mary Nisha Hansda, Manthan, Praveer. Peter, Paku Tudu, Ramesh Jerai, Reshmi Devi, Rose Xaxa, Siraj Dutta and Tom Kavala.

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