The front page BJP advertisement in various national newspapers today triggered a controversy with Aam Aadmi Party alleging violation of Model Code of Conduct but the Election Commission found nothing wrong in it.
AAP took exception to the advertisement which listed the achievements of the Narendra Modi government and asked people to vote for it in the Delhi Assembly polls tomorrow.
“Today Delhi has seen that every paper has a front page advertisement given by BJP. In my opinion this is clear-cut violation of the EC guidelines and the Model Code of Conduct,” AAP leader Ashutosh told reporters.
“My question is that if such ads are not allowed on TV after the campaigning process has ended, why should they be allowed in newspapers? The law should change. If widely circulated papers carry such ads then it will certainly influence minds of people,” he said.
EC, however, found nothing wrong in the newspaper advertisement, with a senior official saying the BJP has not violated any law.
“Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 bars display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus. It is not applicable to the print media. This is what Parliament has decided,” the EC official said.
He pointed out that the previous UPA government had planned to check “election day advertisements” in newspapers by amending the RP Act. The issue was referred to the Law Commission which was already examining the larger issue of electoral reforms. The law panel is likely to submit its report next month.
Section 126 of the Act deals with prohibitions “during period of 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll.”
It states that no person can convene, hold or attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election or display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus in any polling area during the period of forty-eight hours ending with the fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in the polling area.
The EC official said any party is free to highlight the achievements of its government in such advertisement. But the government cannot bring out such advertisements.
Attacking AAP for raising the issue, BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha said, “….I believe it is ignorance from their (AAP) side. Either they do not know about the law or
Model Code of Conduct or they are making such statements deliberately to remain in news.”
He said the advertisement just talks about “the positive agenda of BJP which the party wants the public to know. There is no violation of any kind. Such ads can be given till the day of polling.”
Ashutosh also took to Twitter to question BJP’s source of funding behind these advertisements.
“From where BJP gets money to give front page AD in every newspaper. These ADs are most expensive and costly,” he said in a tweet.
“Every paper in Delhi is carrying front page BJP AD. What is the source of money ? AAP’s fight is Ag money power,” said Ashutosh in another tweet.