New Delhi: The Election Commission has asked political parties to refrain from using animals for poll campaign.
In an advisory issued last week, the Commission said the cadres and workers of political parties and candidates, in their enthusiasm, should not lose sight of existing legal provisions dealing with cruelty to animals.
The advisory comes ahead of assembly elections scheduled in a number of states, including Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Citing various laws regarding prevention of cruelty to animals and wildlife protection, the Commission noted that even the use of animals for works is regulated through law.
"The Commission hereby advises the political parties and candidates that they should refrain from using any animal for election campaign in any manner. If at all use of animals is unavoidable due to any particular reason, they should ensure that there is no cruelty meted out to the animals and there is no violation of any of the legal provisions," it said.
The Commission receieved representations from individuals and organizations alleging that animals like horses, ponies, donkeys, elephants, camels, bulls and others are subjected to cruelty in different ways during election campaign.
It was also alleged that the animals are often made to carry loads beyond permissible limits, made to work for long hours and at times candidates even paint slogans and election symbols on animals using harmful chemicals.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) welcomed the decision.
PETA India`s Director of Veterinary Affairs Manilal Valliyate said "donkeys, bulls and elephants have no political allegiance and do not deserve to be whipped and forced through crowd or bullied by people who do not agree with the other party`s polity.