NEW DELHI -- Ahead of the upcoming polls in five states, the Election Commission on Tuesday issued an advisory to all political parties calling on them to refrain from making statements based on religion, or face stern action.
In a statement, the poll panel called on all political parties and its leaders to "desist from making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between different sections of society on the basis of religion, which disturbs peace and tranquilly of the society which is absolutely essential for free and peaceful conduct of elections."
The Commission further warned that it will not remain a "silent spectator" if the provisions of law or the Model Code of Conduct are violated and no one can do it with impunity.
"The Commission will take stern actions for any violation under all powers available. All may please note it and issue suitable advisory to all concerned," the statement read.
The development comes in the wake of the furore created over Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sakshi Maharaj, who received a notice from the Election Commission over his controversial comments that appeared to blame the Muslim community for India's population growth.
The MP has been asked to respond to the allegations by 11 January, or the EC will initiate further action.
The Commission asserted that the the complaint filed on 7 January alleges that his Meerut speech, had the effect of promoting enmity between different classes in connection with the election on grounds of religion.
Sakshi Maharaj recently stirred a row saying, "This population rise in not because of the Hindus. Population has risen due to those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children."
Despite drawing flak for his offensive statement Sakshi Maharaj again stirred up a controversy on Saturday again, saying that it is not acceptable to have four wives and 40 children, adding that he should be "rewarded" for not having a child.
"The population is increasing by the day. A woman is not a machine. It is not acceptable to have four wives, 40 children and three divorces," Maharaj told ANI.
"We should be rewarded, as I have four brothers and we all are unmarried and thus we don't have any child," the BJP leader added.
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