The Election Commission on Tuesday asked political parties and religious leaders to refrain from using places of worship for propaganda during the campaign for Lok Sabha elections, reported PTI.

The poll body’s statement came a few days after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit requested it to appoint special observers at mosques to prevent alleged attempts to influence Muslim voters.

“As per the Model Code of Conduct, the use of caste and religion during the election campaign is strictly prohibited,” said a statement issued by the Delhi’s chief electoral officer. It said political and religious leaders should not indulge in activities that “aggravates existing differences or cause tension between different caste or communities, religious or linguistic”.

On March 11, the Election Commission had warned parties in Kerala against using the Sabarimala temple row in campaigns, saying “citing or invoking” religious propaganda on the matter was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Supreme Court had in January 2017 outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community or language.

The Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue till May 19 across seven phases. The Model Code of Conduct has been in place since March 10 when the Election Commission announced the voting schedule.

Do not use defence forces for political propaganda: Poll panel

The poll body on Tuesday also reiterated that parties and candidates should not use the activities of the defence forces for political propaganda in campaigns. On March 9, the poll body had instructed political parties to keep the country’s defence personnel out of election campaigning and not to use their photographs in advertisements.