The Election Commission has directed social media platform Facebook to remove IAF pilot Abhinandan vardhman’s photo which was shared by BJP MLA OP Sharma and a few others.
The two posters in question were shared on Facebook by the Delhi MLA on March 1.
While one poster shared by the BJP leader read, “Jhuk gaya hai Pakistan, laut aaya hai desh ka veer Jawan (Pakistan capitulates, the country’s brave heart is back), the other went on to laud the Indian prime minister for the pilot’s return. “Modi ji dwara itne kam samay main bahadur Abhinandan ko wapas lana Bharat ki bahut badi kootnitik vijay hai (Abhinandan’s return, through Modi ji, is a big diplomatic win for India).”
Both carry photographs of Wing Commander Varthaman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and Sharma, who is the Vishwas Nagar MLA in Delhi.
EC has warned political parties against using Armed Forces for political gains
In its communication to presidents, chairpersons and general secretaries of all recognised parties on March 9, the Commission had drawn attention to a circular dated December 4, 2013, asking them not to use the armed forces for political gains.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the Armed Forces of a nation are the guardian of its frontiers, security and the political system. They are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy. It is, therefore, necessary that the political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the Armed Forces in their political campaign,” stated the EC directive.
Recently, the Election Commission had issued a notice directing political parties not to use images of defence forces in their posters and other form of advertisements in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. The poll body cited a 2013 order to say that photographs of defence forces should not be used in advertisement/propaganda/campaigning or in any other manner in connection with election by political parties and candidates.
“The political parties must refrain from using photographs of defence personnel in advertisements or their election campaign propaganda as the armed forces are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy,” the EC said in a notice on its website on Saturday.
The action is likely the first such instance of a social media platform being pulled up for an MCC violation and has come soon after political parties were advised against using images of defence personnel in their campaigns.
While the MCC provisions have been applicable to social media since 2013, the EC has till now been unable to act against violations due to the lack of a mechanism to reach out to social media sites.