Lok Sabha Election
Use of the Sabarimala issue to appeal to religious sentiments, could lead to recommendation of disqualification of the candidate, the CEO stated.

The raging controversy around women entry into Sabarimala temple could have become the focal point for political parties in Kerala, during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign. However, the State’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Teeka Ram Meena has categorically stated that the issue, cannot be milked to garner votes, especially by appealing to religious sentiments.

Speaking to TNM, the CEO said, “Sabarimala can be used politically, but it can’t be used to instigate the religious feelings particularly that of Hindus; that will not be accepted. It shouldn’t be given a religious dimension, or used to invoke sentiments of a particular religious community or a particular religious group or against another group or political party,”  Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena told TNM.

The CEO also stated the issue cannot be turned into a electoral weapon and that speaking against the September 28 Supreme Court order, which allows women of all ages to enter the temple, will be considered a blatant violation of the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct.

Instigating religious hatred and campaigning based on Pro-Hindu or Anti-Hindu sentiments too would lead to the disqualification of the candidate, the CEO added.

“If a particular party is asking votes saying that we are pro-Hindu or anti-Hindu that won’t be allowed. Disqualifying the candidate who uses Sabarimala is the final decision of the Election Commission. But we will certainly take a serious view, will get a report from the police or the local authorities and if action is required we will recommend the Election Commission to take appropriate action against the candidate or the political party," he said.

The CEO added that the State Election Commission will hold a discussion with political parties on Tuesday in this regard and will form a formal response on the Commission’s stance.