Parties Using Kids in Campaigns Will Face EC Music
By Express News Service | Published: 19th April 2014 07:14 AM |
With increasing instances of children participating in election campaign, the election commission seems to have taken cognizance of the issue. Chief Election Officer Praveen Kumar on Friday assured that action would be taken against political parties if complaints were received and any such charge is proved.
With schools closed for the summer, many parties seem to be looking at children ranging anywhere between 10 to 16 of age as a cheap and abundant source of labour. It is a violation of Child Labour Act apart from being against the MCC (Model Code of Conduct) norms. Reports of engaging young children for campaign activities such as distributing pamphlets door-to-door and also for holding party flags during canvassing of votes in streets are coming from across the State. These parties also appear to be cashing in on their enthusiasm.
While children sporting party signs and flags are seen as commonplace in slums around North Chennai including Parrys and Washermanpet, there were reports of minor boys riding around in bikes with the entourages of several leaders in areas such as Tambaram and Vandalur.
Reports said the Congress had engaged children in its campaign in Tiruchy and Pudukottai but no complaint has been filed. Children are being seen dancing to the beat of drums accompanying local leaders engaged in canvassing votes on the roads. Similar reports have come from Madurai.
In his response, Praveen Kumar said “Only one complaint about children being used for election campaign was received some time ago but the charge was not proved. Involving children in processions and public meetings for the election campaign is a violation of model code. If any complaint comes, the EC will decide on it. Besides the Child Labour Act also can be invoked against the errant.”
Curb on Activities
The Election Commission has issued restrictions on political activities from 6 pm on April 22, with the close of campaign. The restrictions would remain in force across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry till the polling closes on
April 24. The moratorium would also extend to the publication or broadcast of opinion polls.
A statement from the Election Commission listed the prohibited activities that would come into force. These would include a ban on the propagation of any election related information and material through any medium, including SMS, internet or any other form of electronic communication.
All political workers brought into a constituency from outside would have to return to their hometowns, and extensive checks would be conducted at hotels, ledges and marriage halls to ensure this. Candidates would have limited access to vehicles for use during polling.
The Election Commission has stated categorically that there would be no restrictions on the use of private vehicles for personal purposes.
The Commission also underlined the ban it has already imposed on the conduct or release of results of exit polls till polling ends on the Lok Sabha elections on May 12.