The Election Commission on Wednesday served notices to the BJP and its national president Nitin Gadkari for misusing the names of Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and union minister for urban development Kamal Nath in a party advertisement, highlighting its 24x7 water project apparently to gain political mileage ahead of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) polls. Gadkari and BJP have been given three days to file a reply.
In a petition before the state election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan, the Nagpur city Congress president Jaiprakash Gupta accused the BJP of election code violation.
Gupta alleged that the BJP deliberately and mischievously used photographs of Chavan and Nath in a way to depict the two leaders supporting the ambitious water scheme. The advertisement also carried photographs of Gadkari, mayor Archana Dehankar and local BJP leaders.
Both, Chavan and Nath had appreciated the NMC's uninterrupted water supply scheme at a function held in December last year and reportedly said that the scheme set an example for others to follow. This appreciation had disappointed the local Congress leaders, who are stoutly opposed to the scheme.
Now the BJP is trying to encash the statements of both the leaders and using it in its advertisement campaign ahead of the local self government elections, Gupta claimed in his petition.
Peeved by this unexpected and amusing political advertisement, irked local Congress leaders have alleged that the advertisement contained misleading and frivolous claim pertaining to 24x7 water supply scheme.
Through this advertisement, the BJP made a claim pertaining to the government funded water supply scheme being implemented by the NMC, as it is the scheme well accepted by the society at large, whereas the fact is that there is a massive public protest against the scheme because of various factors, including serious allegations of corruption while awarding tender and irregularities.
"But the offender" has misused the photographs of the chief minister as well as the union minister and tried to make that they had appreciated the scheme, Gupta said and alleged that it would give a wrong signal to public at large about the leaders of Congress whose photographs were used in the advertisement without their consent. "This is a corrupt practice adopted by the BJP as defined under model code of conduct as well as illegal inducement to the voters to grab and take electoral advantage," he further added.
Gupta through his counsel Vinod Tiwari contended that the advertisement was a violation of the model code of conduct as it amounted to misuse of official machinery by the NMC office-bearers.
The BJP and the NMC officer bearers are also accused of unfairly inducing the voters as the party symbol lotus appears prominently in the advertisement.
Tiwari argued that the election commission should freeze the lotus symbol of the BJP under articles 243 K and 243 ZA for misusing it for getting political mileage.