The State Election Commission (SEC) has issued an order banning the use of animals by political parties during election campaigns. In a letter to all political parties, the SEC said donkeys, bulls, elephants and cows cannot be used for politics.
Often donkey with blackened face are paraded on streets to highlight the failure of the government or portrayed as rivals.
“The political parties found misusing the animals to highlight any issues during the local bodies elections will be dealt firmly. The candidates have no business to inflict atrocities against animals to highlight the public cause. The politicians have been urged to show restrain in abusing each other taking animal names.
Several instances of politicians calling each other donkeys or dogs have been brought to the election commission’s notice,” state election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan said on Friday.
The misuse of animals amounts to cruelty against animals and is punishable under the Act. The SEC decision to issue directives to the parties in Maharashtra comes in the wake of growing instances of misuse of animals by the political parties to settle scores with their rivals or ridicule the administration and the government.
Several animal rights activists and non-government organizations have brought to the notice of the EC to stop the use of animals in campaigns.
Sources in the SEC revealed that most abused among the animals at the hands of politicians are donkeys and bulls. The common abuse, which has been in practice, is the politicians taking out procession of a donkey on the streets. The donkey walks down the streets carrying a garland of chappals.
Bulls, elephants and cows are the other animals used by parties during their campaigns.
“If any body is found disobeying the directives and abuse animals to serve their political campaigns will be taken to task. The SEC has every right to act,” the directive said.
The SEC under Sections 343 (K) and 243 (ZA) is authorized to undertake the entire responsibility in conducting the state local bodies elections. The municipal corporation elections and zilla parishad elections are scheduled in February and March (2012).