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Campaign norm: Candidates can't bend it with Ramdev

DNJAI44351 | 11/2/2013 | Author : Yuvraj Shrimal | WC :393 | City-Jaipur

Cost of yoga guru's camps to be added to election expenses of contestants if he canvasses for them
Ballot Raj
The election department has issued detailed guidelines to its poll duty officers asking them to keep a strict watch on 'Yoga Shivirs' organised by Baba Ramdev in state. According to the department, as per a recent complaint, these camps could be used as a means of political campaigning during the Rajasthan Assembly elections.
The guideline directs the polling officials to include the entire expenditure of the yoga camp into the account of the candidates if the camp tries to promote him.
Chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashok Jain issued an order while referring the guidelines to all collectors in the poll bound state. Delhi-based Congress leader Naresh Kumar had complained to the Election Commission of India (ECI) raising the issue of advertisements of the yoga camp in his constituency. Kumar had also alleged that the electorate was being influenced to vote in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party through these advertisements for the camps.
Taking cognisance of a complaint the ECI restrained Baba Ramdev from using the yoga camp as a political platform and issued guidelines in this regard. The commission has also forwarded a set of guidelines to Rajasthan election department asking to ensure the yoga camps remain just a fitness class and not take a political turn. The guidelines also include barring the organisers from distributing any publicity material related to political party and restricting them to invite political leaders as the chief guests or special invitees for the shivirs.
The Commission directed the election duty officers to add the entire expenditure of shivirs in the account of campaigning budget of candidate concerned if the fitness class is used to promote him or her. "The organisers may also be informed that any direct/indirect political message from the camp will be viewed seriously and entire camp expenditure will be treated as having made on election campaigning and booked under relevant provisions of the election expenditure of contesting candidates under Representation of the people Act, 1951," guideline say.
The spokesperson of the state election department Dinesh Mathur said that the order was not in his knowledge yet. "Though, the district collectors have already been directed to keep a watch on such programmes and conferences of star campaigners. The poll officers have even been asked to get video recording of such programmes. Action will be taken for violating the model code of conduct," Mathur added.

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