Published: 17th May 2019
Activists accuse political parties of 'using' children for campaign rallies in Dharwad
Raghavendra Bhat, who works with the UNICEF, said there is a need to hold orientation programmes by election officers for political leaders in connection with use of children for election publicity
Norms set by Election Commission and Child Rights Commission have been thrown to the wind by political parties in Dharwad district as children were seen campaigning for Kundgol by-election.
Children were seen roaming in the scorching sun in different localities of Kundgol, holding flags of political parties and seeking votes for their parties. It seems political leaders are least bothered about following rules and regulations.
As it is the summer holiday for schools, children are free and they land in the clutches of political leaders. However, it is not clear if children had participated in campaigning on their own or were lured by partied by offering money and other goods.
Leaders of both political leaders have denied using children for campaigning. If any children have taken part in rallies, they might be relatives of leaders or supporters of the candidate. Moreover, party leaders try to avoid such controversies during elections, they added.
Raghavendra Bhat, who works with the UNICEF, said there is a need to hold orientation programmes by election officers for political leaders in connection with use of children for election publicity.
“The officers concerned should book cases against those who are found violating child rights. It's not about punishment. Registering cases and punishing culprits will help curb such incidents in the future,” he said.
"Political leaders use children for campaigning, claiming that they are wards of party workers or supporters,” he said.
Deputy commissioner Deepa Cholan said she will instruct teams to look into the issue. Using children for campaigning is against the law. Those who found guilty will have to face legal consequences. "I will collect photos and take stern actions against child right violators," she added.