EC asks Congress to explain misleading newspaper ad in response to BJP complaint
The EC has constrained Congress from utilising this format, content, language and placement of advertisement in the interim period
New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has directed Congress to explain the design and placement of an advertisement in the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper, which was placed like a news item “with a view to disorient the electors”. The notice was issued to Congress’s Rajasthan state president Govind Singh Dotasra in response to a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) on Tuesday.
The EC has also constrained Congress from utilising this format, content, language and placement of advertisement in the interim period. Dotasra has to respond by 3 pm, November 23.
In its notice, the EC noted that the advertisement, placed in the “SkyBus” or “Masthead” location, by Congress in Rajasthan is missing the election symbol. “[T]he concern of distortion on level playing field is even more exaggerated” in this case compared to a BJP advertisement from March 2021, against which Congress had complained, the EC said.
However, in the notice, the EC also noted that the placement, design and content of advertisements in print media, “prior to 48 hours of the date of poll”, do not require clearance from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). Prior to 48 hours of the date of poll, advertising is “entirely controlled by the respective political parties with financial implication”, the EC said. “Political parties are permitted and expected to issue advertisement subject to accounting, and, clear citation, to identify political advertisements as such.”
The advertisement was published just five days before the scheduled assembly elections in Rajasthan.
BJP had taken umbrage to advertisements published in leading national dailies, including Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar, on November 20 which read, “Rajasthan mein Congress ki leher [Congress sweeps Rajasthan]”, HT had earlier reported. The BJP had called for the EC to refrain Congress from publishing any election related advertisements, to file an FIR against Congress, and to mandate Congress to issue a public apology in the same newspapers.
It has also called the EC to take action against newspapers that carried the advertisement and asked them to publish an apology and a clarification.
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