Keep Armed Forces Out Of Political Campaigns

The billboard featuring IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman along with PM Modi and Amit Shah.

New Delhi: 

Asserting that the armed forces are “apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy”, the Election Commission today asked political parties across the country to not use photographs of defence personnel on hoardings or posters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

The notice, which was sent to all the parties concerned, was issued after billboards featuring BJP leaders such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah along with Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman came up in certain parts of the national capital. “Everything is possible under PM Modi,” the billboards read.

The exact words were Modi hai toh mumkin hai, which — incidentally — happens to be the BJP’s slogan this election season.

Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by Pakistani authorities after an aerial dogfight with India on February 27, but returned two days later. Many BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, attributed his near-immediate release to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts.

The Election Commission, in its notice, drew the parties’ attention to a letter dated December 4, 2013, that gave reasons for not using the armed forces in poll campaigns. “It is pertinent to…

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