Lok Sabha Election 2019: Election Commission of India has directed political parties to stop using photographs of defence personnel in their election campaign and political propaganda. The commission, which is expected to announce the schedule for Lok Sabha election any day, had earlier received representation from the ministry of defence. The commission has asked the top leadership of all the recognised political parties to ensure compliance of its order.
Election Commission said: “It has been brought to the notice of the commission that some political parties are using the photographs of the defence personnel in advertisements as part of their political campaigns.”
Election commission was informed that some political parties were using the images of air force, its fighter jets and wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman along with their leaders to derive political mileage out of Modi government’s decision to carry out a preemptive air strike on Pakistan based terror camps.
Following the IAF bombing, top leaders of 21 opposition parties had accused the NDA government of politicisation of Indian Air Force’s bombing of Balakot terror camps operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed and also for not taking the opposition into the confidence.
The preemptive airstrikes by IAF had escalated into a dual between the air forces of two arch rivals with nuclear capability. A day after Indian airstrikes, Pakistan air force entered into Indian airspace and dropped some bombs, forcing the IAF to scramble its jets to chase them away. India lost one Mig 21 jet in the ensuing clashes and one Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistani army who was later released.
The issue of Pakistan sponsored terrorism and the nature of Indian response have become the biggest election issue since then, overshadowing other important issues of economic growth, employment generation and situation of farmers. However, the use of pictures of air force officers and its aircraft for political gain prompted the apex election body to ask political parties to strictly comply with its earlier directives on the issue.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the armed forces of a nation are the guardian of its frontiers, security and political system. They are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy. And it is necessary that the political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the armed forces in their political campaigns,” said the commission while citing a representation from the ministry of defence.
Election Commission also asked presidents and general secretaries of all state and national political parties to advise their candidates and leaders to desist from using the photographs of defence personnel and functions involving defence personnel in their advertisements and campaigning.