The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday, reversing its earlier order of removing all kinds of hoardings and banners put up on government properties and public places, surprisingly took a U-turn in the evening, and allowed Punjab’s local bodies to continue using their commercial sites for displaying advertisements, including political ones.
“Earlier, we had received the instructions from the Election Commission to remove all political posters from government properties and public places and we had removed around 30% posters,” said municipal corporation commissioner Vipul Ujwal.
“However, we have just received verbal instructions from the state election commission that local bodies are exempted from the EC orders as advertisements are a big source of income for local bodies. We will get the related letter very soon. SAD can reinstall its banners and posters. There should be no problem in it,” said Ujwal. He said the order covers the whole state.
In the mor ning, the MC authorities had begun removing political hoardings and advertisements after a communication from the EC that no advertisement of political nature shall be allowed on any building or space owned by the government or public sector bodies even if the space had been rented out to private contractors.
However, the MC stopped removing them in the evening and now SAD would, reportedly, be allowed to reinstall its banners, that were removed.
Interestingly, there has been hardly any government or public sector bodies in the state, other than local bodies that provide advertisement spaces.
The HT had reported the helplessness of the state election commission on Saturday as how it was not finding any proper location to put up its mandatory voter-awareness banners as all the prime advertisement locations had been sold out to SAD which was using them for the campaign of its candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Manpreet had also approached the state election commission in the past to express his resentment on the SAD’s aggressive poster campaign and hiring the MCB’s prime locations. At that time, the state election commission had settled the matter by saying that the expenses on billboards would be included in the party’s poll expenditure.
The MC auctions its advertisement space every year to private contractors and, this time, these contractors had sold almost every site in the city to SAD for their election campaign.