Political parties would have to alter their campaigning strategies in assembly elections due this year, especially in Uttar Pradesh
GN Bureau | January 2, 2017
The supreme court has ruled that electoral candidates cannot seek votes in the name of religion, caste, creed, community or language. A seven-judge bench, headed by chief justice of India TS Thakur, said and that the relationship between man and God is an individual choice and the state should not interfere in it.
While the bench called election a secular exercise, three of the seven judges expressed dissent by saying that the matter must be left to Parliament to decide. The three dissenting judges, as quoted by the Hindustan Times, added that prohibiting people from articulating legitimate concerns reduced “democracy to an abstraction".
The bench was hearing petitions in a 21-year-old SC verdict that had called Hindutva a "way of life" and not a religion. The 1995 apex court’s decision had given many political parties the leverage to attract voters on religious lines.
In the near future, the latest decision of the SC can have serious implications on campaigning in assembly elections due this year in five states, especially in Uttar Pradesh where the Ram temple in Ayodhya still remains a poll issue. In the long-run, this could effectively dilute the practice of seeking votes on religious lines and creating disharmony among communities.
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