The Haryana election department has taken action against at least 12 Lok Sabha contestants belonging to different political majors namely Congress, BJP, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and even Aam Aadami Party (AAP) for indulging in paid news in violation of model code of conduct.
The election de par t ment received 41 complaints against candidates cutting across the party lines and action was taken in as many as 25 cases. The cost of ‘paid news’ was, thus, included in the candidates’ expenditure accounts.
The maximum complaints – 18 — were received from Sonepat LS seat and it was found there were ‘paid news’ in favour of INLD’s Padam Singh Dahiya (six complaints) and AAP’s Jai Singh (four complaints), besides an independent candidate Sukhbir Farmana (eight complaints).
Costs ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 was added to their respective expenditure accounts, a senior official said.
In Gurgaon LS seat, two confirmed cases of ‘paid news’ were detected, one each against AAP’s candidate Yogendra Yadav and BSP’s Dharampal Rathi. The AAP had got distributed about 50,000 pamphlets in a newspaper format, carrying surveys which enhanced party’s image.
Though AAP held that it was in the form of handbills, the election department trashed the explanation and added about Rs 1.5 lakh cost to Yadav’s expenditure. Likewise, there were ‘news reports’ showing several villages supporting Rathi. Though he held they were not paid news, the election officials added Rs 40,000 to his expenditure account.
At Sirsa too, at least seven confirmed cases of paid news were detected. An official said that notices, however, had been sent to Congress candidate Ashok Tanwar and INLD’s Charanjit Singh Rori in two se parate cases. “Complaints pertaining to 36 advertisements of different candidates are currently being examined,” he added.
Interestingly, as many as two confirmed cases of ‘paid news’ were detected in Kurukshetra LS seat and cost was added to the expenditure account of Congress candidate Navin Jindal and BJP’s Raj Kumar Saini.
The Kurukshetra deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer, Nikhil Gajraj, said that it was noticed that some papers carried the photos and news items enhancing prospects of the said candidates in a similar format. The cost of an advertisement of an equal space of those newspapers were added to the expenditure account of the said candidates, he added.
In Hisar too, three confirmed cases of ‘paid news’ were detected – two against Haryana Janhit Congress candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi and one against INLD’s Dushyant Chautala and the advertisement rate of the space equivalent to that of the news was added to their respective accounts.
In Karnal too, one complaint against BJP’s candidate Ashwini Kumar Minna was detected and
Rs 70,000 was added to his expenditure account.