EC gets tough with those using religious places for electioneering purposes


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Elections Secretariat is expected to instruct Secretaries of all political parties and Independent Groups in the polls fray to immediately stop using places of religious worship for propaganda purposes.

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya will meet senior representatives of political party representatives today (20) at the Elections Secretariat, Rajagiriya.

A spokesperson for the Elections Secretariat yesterday told The Island that those contesting the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls had been misusing places of religious worship.

The situation had taken a turn for the worse since July 13, when nominations closed, the official said.

Responding to a query, the spokesperson said that in accordance with the 1981 Parliamentary Elections Act, those who had been found guilty could be imprisoned for a year, lose right to exercise franchise for a seven-year period and in case of an MP unseated.

The Elections Secretariat alleged that both print and electronic media had encouraged the ugly practice of religious leaders endorsing policies of various political parties. A group of clergymen recently lashed out at EC Deshapriya for interfering in political activity taking place at some temples, sources said.

Sources alleged that major political parties were carrying on regardless. The Election Secretariat said that religious leaders should take meaningful measures to stop the practice.

They said the Elections Secretariat would also take up with Chief Ministers of Western, North Western and Uva Provinces and candidates at the Aug 17 polls, namely, Prasanna Ranatunga (UPFA), Dayasiri Jayasekera (UPFA) and Harin Fernando (UNP), misusing facilities.

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