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Surrogate ads tarnish Mayawati's image

Fictitious organisations have sprung up in UP with funds to carry ad campaigns against rival political parties, reports M Hassan.

lucknow Updated: Apr 27, 2007 04:19 IST
M Hasan
M Hasan

With state assembly election becoming "do or die" affairs for political parties, surrogate ads tarnishing image of rival parties have assumed serious dimension in the State. Fictitious organisations have suddenly sprung up with huge funds to carry ad campaigns.

Taking serious view of the situation the Election Commission on Thursday intensified its efforts to nail down those involved in these advertisements mainly targeted against BSP president Mayawati.

While the commission on Thursday asked central board of direct taxes (CBDT) to trace the source of funding for the ads, the police also started investigation in the case in Lucknow.

However these ads are not just anti-Mayawati, earlier surrogate ads had appeared against the Congress and BJP. They were against the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani. They were released by an unidentified organization "Rashtriya Shanti Lok Manch in public interest".

Interestingly the Delhi based NGO Bal Shiksha avam Sarvangin Vikas Sansthan, which targeted Mayawati, appreciated Mulayam Singh Yadav government for crime control. Pro-Yadav ad said on April 25 "people in Chambal are now fear-free. There was now confidence in UP police. It is result of tough measures of chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav". "Uttar Pradesh Swabhiman Manch" also released ads supporting the SP.

The chief electoral officer AK Bishnoi told media on Thursday that the police had already started investigation after registering FIR. He said the commission had taken up the matter with the CBDT. Referring to reappearing of anti Mayawati advertisement again on Thursday after the registration of FIR, on Wednesday Bishnoi said "it would further add to the offence". The commission today wrote to the CBDT to probe into source of funding.

These advertisements are appearing regularly in English and vernacular newspapers. The Lucknow administration on the instruction of commission has registered FIR at Qaisarbagh kotwali on Wednesday. The additional chief electoral officer Divesh Chaturvedi said that the ads were released by Delhi-based advertisement company Crayons on behalf of an NGO Bal Shiksha avam Sarvangin Vikas Sansthan.

The commission had taken action on the complaint of the BSP, said Chaturvedi. The FIR was against the ad company and the NGO and not against the newspapers.

The highly objectionable ads tried to paint Mayawati in black hues with comments like "Kursi ke liye Bahanji ne kya kya na kiya, sarkari niukti ke leye boli lagwai (Behanji did everything for chair and even she auctioned government postings). In another ad the comment was "Janma din ko bhi cash karvaya (she encashed her birthday). Comments in all the ads with the caricature of Mayawati were different. Sharply reacting to the ads the BSP in a statement today said that they were appearing to tarnish the image of party. The party said the ads were aimed at spreading caste venom. The party said personal comments against Mayawati invited action under section 501 and 502 IPC.

First Published: Apr 26, 2007 23:08 IST