Putting an end to the controversy over the use of a short film featuring former India cricket captain Saurav Ganguly inspiring people to vote, the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday said it has decided not to use it during West Bengal assembly polls at his request.
"Ganguly is not only a cricket icon, but also an icon of the nation. The EC has high regard for him. In the midst of controversy over the matter, he has written a letter to EC requesting not to make him its brand icon. Therefore, we have decided not to telecast the promo featuring him, respecting his sentiments and emotions," EC's director general (information, education and communication) Akshay Raut said in a media meet here.
The using of the promo was deferred after opposition Trinamool Congress alleged that he maintains links with a minister of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
Trinamool submitted a CD containing recorded comments of both Ganguly and CPI-M minister Asok Bhattacharya, besides alleging that Ganguly was brand ambassador of several state departments, including the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) of the Left Front government.
Raut said that Ganguly was aware of the controversy and in his letter expressed unhappiness at being dragged into it.
After examining the CD and allegation levelled by the Trinamool against Ganguly, the state election officials had sent a report to the Election Commission in New Delhi. The report said that there was no evidence of Ganguly maintaining links with CPI-M or any political leaders but left it to the EC to take the final decision.
Asked why the film was not used even after the Trinamool's allegation was found baseless, Raut said, "There is no division (of opinion) between the CEO office and EC regarding the matter. The decision was taken because Ganguly himself did not want the EC to select him as its brand icon because of the controversy."
The CEO's office now has three other promos featuring percussionist Bikram Ghosh, Indian cricket team captain M S Dhoni and former president A P J Abdul Kalam. "These promos would be used in the run-up to the assembly election in West Bengal to encourage voters to cast vote without fear," he said.