The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Telangana unit on Friday approached the Election Commission demanding action against Congress President Rahul Gandhi. BJP alleged that his interview in an English daily was paid news and a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, reported PTI. The interview was published on Thursday, a day before voting was held for the state elections.
A delegation including union ministers JP Nadda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and BJP’s media in-charge Anil Baluni submitted a memorandum to the poll panel enclosing a copy of the interview that was published from Hyderabad, saying “the reporting by way of an interview…is shining example of paid news.”
The news, the BJP contended, was one-sided and against the spirit and parameters of permitted coverage of news defined in the compendium of instructions on media-related matters.
Apart from the interview, the front page coverage on December 6 was another glaring example of paid news in the garb of reporting, the complaint mentioned.
In the interview, Rahul Gandhi refers to some poll surveys and seeks to influence voters during the period of electoral silence, 48 hours before the close of poll.
The reference to opinion polls or surveys too violates the letter and spirit of the Electoral Laws, it contended.
The BJP petition stated, “In view of the gross violation on two counts, one for publishing paid news by way of interview and, two, the newspaper’s one-sided reporting, we request action be taken against the Congress party and its President for violation of orders on paid news.”
Addressing the media after meeting the poll panel officials, Mr Naqvi said,”Just a day before the polling in Telangana and Rajasthan, Rahul Gandhi through his interview, which was actually a paid news, tried to influence voters and electoral process also. It is a violation of electoral reforms.”
Mr Naqvi further said that Mr Gandhi in his interview cited a survey to claim that the Congress is winning and BJP is losing elections in all the five states.
“This news (interview) comes under the category of paid news. As per the rules no campaigning or such interviews should be done 48 hours before the polling. Gandhi intentionally tried to influence voters and free and fair process of election. We demand an immediate action against him and his party,” he said.
The BJP in the memorandum further said that the interview “goes against the very spirit and parameters of the permitted coverage in the compendium of poll panel’s compendium of instructions on the media related matters”.
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