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‘EC should curb religious appeal in polls’

New Delhi

With the Lok Sabha elections to be held early next year, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said it is important that the Election Commission ensures that religious sentiments do not rule the election discourse.

“As the custodian of the integrity of the electoral process, it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to see to it that religion and religious sentiments and prejudices do not get worked into the election discourse,” Mr. Singh said while delivering the second A.B. Bardhan memorial lecture on “Defence of secularism and the Constitution” here on Tuesday.

“The Commission must be thinking of rolling back the easy acceptance of over-manipulation of religious imagery,” Mr. Singh said.

The former PM also warned that the secular fabric of the country was under threat, saying all constitutional institutions should work to preserve it, especially the judiciary. The judiciary should never lose sight of its primary duty to protect the secular spirit of the Constitution, Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Singh’s presence at the CPI event raised some eyebrows as he has been the focus of the Left’s ire in the past.

As Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao Cabinet, he faced bitter criticism for introducing liberalisation measures to open up the Indian economy.

The Left parties had launched all India non-cooperation agitation against the Rao government. A.B. Bardhan was one of the leading figures of this agitation.

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