Brand icon’s suggestion is a contradiction of model code | india | Hindustan Times
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Brand icon’s suggestion is a contradiction of model code

He is a brand icon of the Election Commission (EC), but satirist Jaspal Singh Bhatti seems to be all for free flow of innuendoes, insinuations, allegations and counter-allegations during the campaigning in Punjab - – the very elements which the poll watchdog has been working against for years. Gurpreet Singh Nibber reports.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2012 23:34 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber

He is a brand icon of the Election Commission (EC), but satirist Jaspal Singh Bhatti seems to be all for free flow of innuendoes, insinuations, allegations and counter-allegations during the campaigning in Punjab - – the very elements which the poll watchdog has been working against for years. The mudslinging and character assassination, in his view, will help the voter make a more informed choice.

“The commission should not take notice of rival candidates stooping to mudslinging and even character assassination to some extent as it would give colour to the dry elections,” the EC brand icon wrote in a letter to the chief electoral officer on Thursday.

He said that it will help voter make up his/her mind in choosing the candidate who is less corrupt, as sometimes choice becomes difficult when two rival candidates are looters of the same level. “When candidates dig each other’s scandals it provides entertainment to public and they get involved in democratic process with greater interest,” he wrote.

While it may seem like another gag of the famous satirist, Bhatti insists he is serious. Special chief electoral officer Usha R. Sharma sees no harm in the suggestions made by the brand icon. “It is prerogative of the election commission to accept or reject his views. Bhatti is joking as he is a satirist,” she said.

When contacted, Bhatti said he was serious and meant every bit of his suggestion. In an advisory sent to the all the candidates and political parties election commission has asked them to abstain from mudslinging and character assassination. Bhatti, giving another reason for his suggestion said that it is only during elections that misdeeds and scams surface otherwise hard to dig out even by CBI.

As SAD is complaining against usage of term Kakaji in the multimedia advertisement campaign run by congress party, Bhatti want cartoons and parodies featuring kakaji, maharaja or the dissidents running from party to party should be encouraged. “As it evokes creativities of the artists, writers and singers,” he gives the reason adding that media should subsidize the rates of those advertisement in which lampooning of the candidates are done by their rival candidates and parties.

What election code says:
Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and Candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.

Not public choice:
A survey by Institute for Development and Communication for spreading messages of the Election Commission of India (EC) to motivate voters in exercising their right to franchise in poll bound Punjab, a baseline survey recently conducted by Jaspal Bhatti was least liked out of nine names which were discussed in the survey. He was chosen despite the opinion. Anna Hazare topped the list while folk singer Gurdas Mann faired better than Bhatti in the survey