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Uddhav Thackeray demands EC action against Modi, Shah for seeking votes on religious lines

Shiv Sena (UBT) President and ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has demanded action by the Election Commission of India against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for seeking votes in the name of religion, here on Thursday.

Speaking to the media, Thackeray pointed to Amit Shah’s recent poll campaign when he promised the voters of Madhya Pradesh a free pilgrimage to the Ram Temple in Ayodhya if they voted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) back to power.

Earlier this year, the Maha Vikas Aghadi ex-CM said that in the Karnataka Assembly elections, Modi had also sought votes on religious lines, asking people to chant ‘Bajrang Bali Ki Jai’ and press the EVM buttons.

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“In the past, nobody had the courage to invoke religion during elections… It was only the Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray who coined the slogans of ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain’, ‘Mandir wahin banayenge’. However, on the grounds of ‘corrupt’ electoral practices, he was banned from exercising his voting right for six years,” said Thackeray.

“My question to the ECI is whether any changes have been made since then… Why is a different yardstick being applied now? Does the ECI follow some different rules for Modi and Shah? Why the double standards for the BJP and others,” asked Thackeray.

Simultaneously, Shiv Sena (UBT) Secretary Anil Desai has shot off a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner seeking clarification about the use of religion during campaigning for the forthcoming 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

“The double standards applied by the ECI are intriguing, yet understandable, given the fact that the ECI is publicly perceived to be in alignment with whatever the BJP does during elections and even otherwise,” said Desai in the letter, referring to the poll campaigns that were held in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram.

Thackeray warned that “if what the BJP does is acceptable to the ECI, then henceforth, even the Shiv Sena (UBT) would not hesitate to seek votes in the name of Hindutva or slogans like ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai’, ‘Jai Bhavani’, etc.”

The letter has urged the ECI to declare its position on the use of religion, religious symbols, idioms and language, and whether it is consistent with the standards adopted by the ECI in the past.

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