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Lens on Ramnavami canvassing

Case#1 BJP candidate Bidyut Baran Mahto served notice for wooing Sikhs during a get-together at Dhalbhum Club in Sakchi on April 5 in the presence of former chief minister Arjun Munda and Jamshedpur East MLA Raghubar Das

Case#2 Sitting JVM MP Ajoy Kumar also hauled up for visiting Beldih Baptist Church in Northern Town on April 6 and appealing to Christians to vote in his favour

Wannabe MPs wishing to cash in on Ramnavami sentiments better take note.

East Singhbhum’s 28 flying squads, formed by the district administration to keep tabs on money misuse in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, has been entrusted with the additional responsibility of keeping hawk’s eye on the two-day festivities, which began on Tuesday. The objective is to ensure that no candidate violates the model code of conduct by indulging in religious lobbying.

Dhalbhum SDO Prem Ranjan said 10 special teams had also been constituted to video-record activities of candidates at major akharas and during the crowd-puller Ramnavami procession on Wednesday.

“No political party or candidate in the fray for the general elections can appeal to a particular community or religious group for votes. It is a violation of Clause 3 of the model code of conduct. Based on a directive from the deputy commissioner, we have issued notices to two candidates (Bidyut and Ajoy) in the past,” he added.

The video footage of the procession will be closely examined by the district administration, while the flying squads along with representatives of local urban bodies (Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee, Jugsalai Municipality and Mango Notified Area Committee) have been asked to monitor akharas.

The watchdogs will train their lens on Lalan Akhara in Sonari, Rajak Akhara in Circuit House Area, Bajrang Jai Mandir Jumbo Akhara in Bhalubasa, Tarun Sangha and Bajrang Vijay akharas in Mango, Hanuman Akhara at Ramdas Bhatta and Thakur Pyara Singh Dhurandhar Singh Akhara in Kasidih.

“The videos will help us nail politicians or candidates flouting the code by distribution things like buttermilk or gur-chana (jaggery with gram) among devotees,” Ranjan elaborated, pointing out that use of party banners and symbols during the procession were also prohibited.

Deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer for Jamshedpur parliamentary constituency Amitabh Kaushal clarified that candidates could attend religious functions as an individual, but any appeal for vote support would amount to violation of the model code.

“Apart from the flying squads, we will also seek help from local police in our vigil,” Kaushal said.


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