NPRD lodges complaint with EC over derogatory disability references by leaders during campaigning

New Delhi, May 9 (PTI) Rights body NPRD has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission over the use of derogatory references to disability by some political leaders including TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and BJP’s C P Joshi during election campaigns.

National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) general secretary Muralidharan highlighted several instances where political figures made disparaging remarks about disabilities, and urged the EC to take immediate action to address these violations.

A letter to the EC, dated May 8, condemned the “increasing trend of hate speeches and slurs by political leaders, which continue unabated despite existing legal provisions under the Representation of the People Act (RP Act), Model Code of Conduct (MCC), and other relevant laws”.

The NPRD specifically called out instances where disabilities were invoked to malign opponents, contravening both legal and ethical guidelines governing election conduct.

It referenced a prior complaint lodged against Rajasthan BJP chief Joshi for making offensive remarks likening political opponents to people “walking on crutches”.

This complaint, the NPRD emphasized, was submitted on March 29, and underscores the urgency for the EC to take concrete actions against such misconduct.

Moreover, the NPRD drew attention to two recent incidents involving prominent political figures.

One incident involved TDP supremo Naidu, who made “disparaging comments” about the mental health of an opponent.

The other incident highlighted a candidate of the National People’s Party, Kritenberth Marak, who reportedly insulted a disabled individual during a campaign event.

The NPRD underscored that these actions flagrantly disregarded the EC’s guidelines and advisories against using derogatory language related to disabilities in public statements, speeches, or campaigns.

Its letter called for exemplary action by the EC, urging immediate investigation and appropriate penalties for the offenders in accordance with the MCC and relevant legal provisions.

Failure to address these violations, NPRD warned, would undermine the integrity of the commission’s guidelines and embolden further misconduct during the ongoing electoral process.

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