The Election Commission (EC) has banned political advertisements in newspapers on Thursday, the day polling for the last phase of Bihar elections will be held, after the watchdog found its earlier warning had not deterred the BJP from issuing a new controversial advertisement.
Invoking its powers under the Constitution for the second time within four days over the controversial BJP advertisements, the EC on Wednesday expressed its dismay that “despite its directions certain advertisement with offending nature” got published.
“No political party or candidate or any other organisation or person shall publish any advertisement in the newspapers tomorrow unless the contents proposed to be published are got pre-certified by them from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC),” the EC said, invoking its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution.
It also directed the state’s chief electoral officer to ensure that a mechanism is put in place to ensure that no advertisement gets published without pre-certification of media certification committee.
The directions came after a row erupted over the fresh advertisement by the BJP that prompted the constituents of the grand alliance — Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress — to approach the Election Commission, alleging the advertisement amounted to “seeking votes in the name of religion” and that the BJP was “trying to polarise” the elections.
JD(U) leader KC Tyagi had threatened to take the matter to President Pranab Mukherjee’s court if the poll panel failed to take stern action on the issue.
The BJP, however, defended the advertisement, saying there was nothing wrong in it. “We were not the first to raise the issue (of beef). It was Lalu who did. We have just responded,” BJP leader Sushil Modi said in Patna.