Assam: Is BJP’s Advertisement a Violation of Model Code of Conduct ?

It is to be noted that the BJP including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been accused in the past of violating the Model Code of Conduct.

Image courtesy: naanugauri.com

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued notice to eight newspapers of Assam. The Assam Tribune, Asomiya Pratidin, Aamar Asom, Niyomia Barta, Asomiya Khabor, Dainik Asam, Dainik Jugasankha and Dainik Purvodaya carried an advertisement of the BJP in the form of a headline claiming that the party will win all 47 seats where elections were held in the first phase on Saturday. Elections to 39 seats will be held in the second phase on April 1 and 40 in the third and final phase on April 6, 2021.

The Congress has alleged that the advertisement violates a directive of the ECI, the model code of conduct for the election and the Representation of People Act, 1951. According to the Indian Express report, in the notices, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade asked the newspapers to send a report clarifying their position to the Commission by 7 pm on Monday.The newspapers have also submitted their reports which were forwarded to the ECI, officials said.

The elections in this country both at the central and state levels are governed by certain laws. The Election Commission of India functions according to these laws. The Model Code of Conduct and The Representation of People Act of 1951 are such governing laws which this above said headlines violate. 

Also read: Assam elections: A battle of alliances

The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit. The Representation of People Act of 1951 is an Act that provides with an ethical framework for the conducting of the  elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections. 

The Model Code of Conduct lays down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc. According to these codes, ‘the advertisement regarding achievements of the party at the cost of public exchequer in the print and electronic media and the misuse of official mass media during the period of election is prohibited.’ 

Being a national party with a history of fighting elections for decades now, one wonders how the Bharatiya Janata Party can fault the Model Code of Conduct by declaring that they would win the elections just after the elections. The onus is also on the media outlets that carried the title. ‘Aren’t they informed about the code of conduct? It is just shocking,’ said a student of law speaking to gaurilankeshnews.com. According to the section 126 A of the Representation Act,  ‘Restriction on publication and dissemination of results of exit polls, etc. —(1) No person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print or electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of any exit poll during such period, as may be notified by the Election Commission in this regard.’  

Also read: How to Fight Fascists? : Farmers’ Movement Shows the Way

The BJP advertisement in Assam amidst the pole, declaring that they would win is a violation of these basic rules governing the elections. It is to be noted that the BJP including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been accused in the past of violating the Model Code of Conduct.

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