The grand alliance’s appeal to ban Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat cut no ice with the Election Commission (EC) as the poll body said on Wednesday that there cannot be a ‘blanket ban’ on the talk show.
The EC, however, said it would look into the contents of the monthly show if there is a specific complaint.
The grand alliance — comprising the Congress, Janata Dal United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal — claimed the programme is ‘essentially political’ and ‘permitting the PM to organise Mann ki Baat would be giving a completely unfair advantage to the BJP’. The Congress also alleged that it would ‘upset the level playing field’.
“This telecast by a political party in power by use of government machinery is not permissible during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct,” the joint petition by the three parties stated.
The EC, however, is unlikely to ban the Prime Minister’s radio talk show saying it does not violate the Model Code of Conduct as it was an ongoing programme.
EC sources also said that the issue was settled during the assembly polls for Haryana and Maharashtra, when a similar complaint was filed.
A Congress functionary said that a section of the party was not inclined to move the EC seeking a ban, as they felt it would not yield any results.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, “During the election campaign, when the code of conduct is in operation, there are restrictions on everybody else. But whether that applies to the PM or not, it is for the Election Commission to take a final call.”
The model code of conduct says that the government cannot announce new programmes that can influence voters, but does not stop ongoing programmes.