The Election Commission has so far detected 143 paid news items in Punjab, adding the money involved into the poll expenditure accounts of the candidates concerned. The Congress’s Ambika Soni, a former I&B minister, leads in such murky deals for paying a whopping Rs. 8.14 lakh for at least 20 news items.
The SAD’s Manpreet Ayali in Ludhiana follows Soni by paying Rs. 3.63 lakh for 15 news items.
Besides the print media mainly based in Jalandhar, SAS Nagar, Patiala and Chandigarh, the said paid news items were also identified in the form of footages beamed on the news channels across the state.
The Election Commission follows the definition of paid news as defined by the Press Council of India, which reads — Any news or analysis appearing in any media (print and electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.
The process of identifying the paid news that began on April 9 still continues.
Of the total 143 cases, a maximum of 36 paid news have been identified in Anandpur Sahib constituency. After Ambika Soni, Prem Singh Chandumajra (SAD) follows for paying Rs. 2.9 lakh for 11 news items, while Himmat Singh Shergill of Aam Aadmi Party was also spotted in the list with a single case of paying Rs. 9,000.
In Ludhiana, the SAD’s Manpreet Ayali leads by paying Rs. 3.63 lakh for 15 news items, while Simarjit Singh Bains shelled out Rs. 1.98 lakh for six items, and Ravneet Bittu coming a close third at Rs. 1.57 lakh for two news items.
Sangrur candidates Vijay Inder Singla (Congress) and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (SAD) shelled out Rs. 1.76 lakh and Rs. 1.30 lakh respectively. AAP’s Bhagwant Mann was no exception for paying Rs. 46,000.
In Amritsar, Arun Jaitley paid Rs. 1.23 lakh for six news items, leaving Capt Amarinder Singh far behind at Rs. 18,593.
The SAD’s Pawan Kumar Tinu in Jalandhar paid Rs. 1.97 lakh for seven items, while Chaudhary Santokh Singh of the Congress paid an unaccounted sum for the four paid items.
In Gurdaspur, Vinod Khanna has paid Rs. 61,950 for three such items, while Partap Bajwa was spotted in a single case so far for paying Rs. 40,000.
In Fatehgarh Sahib, realestate trader Kulwant Singh (SAD) paid Rs. 70,000, followed by Sadhu Singh Dharamsot’s (Congress) Rs. 59,300.
The SAD’s best bet Harsimrat Kaur Badal too has paid Rs. 69,000 for three news items against Manpreet Badal’s Rs. 2,300 in a single case in Bathinda.
In Patiala, Preneet Kaur (Congress) paid Rs. 53,500, followed by Deepinder Singh Dhillon’s (SAD) Rs. 20,960.