EC, political parties pass the buck over paid news
Passing the buck over paid news continued with political parties asking the Election Commission to frame model code of conduct for media whereas the commission passed the onus on the parties and media saying it should be self-regulated.
At a meeting with political parties for assembly elections in five states in April-May this year, the commission described paid news as a complex problem and said it has already set up an expenditure unit to look into the menace of paid news.
“In our estimate, the problem of paid news is best addressed by self-regulation by media and political parties. But that is not happening," Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said.
Noting that paid news hoodwinked the enforcement of the expenditure ceiling with particular importance for a level playing field, he had said, “exercise of undue influence is a misuse of media power and we need to intervene in the context of elections.”
Today's meeting also saw elaborate discussion on the issue of expenditure that is incurred on account of 'Star Campaigners' and campaign by allied parties.
The CEC informed the parties about the new measures such as modified affidavit to be submitted at the time of nomination, provision of 24x7 control room with toll free no. 1965 in all election going states with effect from tomorrow and institution of district and state level committees to check paid news.
Quraishi also told political parties of the detailed mechanism that has been put in place for monitoring of expenditure, cash flow, distribution of liquor, food, gifts, tokens etc. during the elections.
"The Commission wanted clear understanding by political parties of the new provisions and rules so that there is no violation," he said and asked political parties to avoid cash transaction and for opening of separate bank account for election expenses for each candidate.
The leaders demanded that the parties should be permitted to appoint 'Expenditure Agent' for every contesting candidate for the purpose of better accounting of expenses incurred.
Six National Parties and 11 out of 13 recognised state parties attended the meeting.