Punjab's ruling Akali Dal(SAD) and the state's leading newspaper, The Tribune, were on collision course today with the party moving the Election Commission against the a series of articles on buiness interests of the Badal clan that rules the state.
The Tribune and its Punjabi publication have run articles in recent days on the business interests of state Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his relatives, some of whom are ministers in the Cabinet of his father and Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. The clan runs large businesses in transport and other sectors.
The Akali Dal today filed a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) and Press Council (PCI) seeking to argue that these articles amounted to surrogate advertisement and paid news to "denigrate" the party, Sukhbir and other leaders.
This was in "blatant" violation of the model code of conduct, the party contended and wanted the EC and the PCI to treat the "collusive series" of news reports and articles and as paid news of Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, and add the expenditure in his election expenses.
In his petition, SAD General Secretary Daljeet Singh Cheema complained that the timing of the reports and articles was to influence the voters against the party in general and the Badal family in particular.
"The fact is that other than the Badal family, no politician, particularly belonging to Congress party, has been featured or covered in this or any other similar series of news reports/articles, in relation to their respective businesses," Cheema said.
The Tribune Group of publications Editor-in-Chief Raj Chengappa has refuted all the allegations describing them as "ill-conceived".
He maintained that the series on business interests of members of the Punjab cabinet and their families is the result of an investigation conducted over a period and is entirely based on documentary evidence.