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Indian Politicians Barred From Using Religion, Caste in Campaigns

  • VOA News

FILE - Samajwadi Party supporters gather for the launch of the party's election campaign for the state of Uttar Pradesh, in Lucknow, India, Nov. 3, 2016.

FILE - Samajwadi Party supporters gather for the launch of the party's election campaign for the state of Uttar Pradesh, in Lucknow, India, Nov. 3, 2016.

India's Supreme Court has ruled politicians cannot use religion, caste or creed in political campaigns, calling it a corrupt practice in the "secular" activity of elections.

"No politician can seek votes in the name of caste, creed or religion," the court ruled Monday. The court said the relationship between man and God is an individual choice, and the state is forbidden from interfering in such an activity.

The ruling comes months before elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where caste affiliations and the building of a Hindu temple in place of a 16th century mosque demolished by Hindu hardliners are among the most pressing campaign issues.

India is currently ruled by a Hindu nationalist party. In a 1955 case, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of "Hindutva," or Hindu, in campaigns was warranted, claiming it was a "way of life" in India, as opposed to a religion.

Hindus constitute nearly 80 percent of India's population.

The states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur are expected to hold legislative elections in the month of February.

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