EC urged to ban PM’s ‘Mann ki Baat’
Grand alliance partners, the Congress, RJD and the JDU, today petitioned the Election Commission for a ban on the telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Mann ki Baat” radio show. According to them, the programme violated the model code of conduct that came into force on September 9 with the announcement of Bihar elections.
Leaders of these parties met the Election Commission. They demanded the cancellation of the September 20 Mann ki Baat programme and a ban on its broadcast till the conclusion of Bihar elections on November 8. The argument these parties (represented by Abhishek Singhvi and Randeep Surjewala of the Congress; KC Tyagi and Pawan Verma of the JDU; and Manoj Jha of the RJD) made in their written memorandum to the EC is that the programme is a telecast by a political party in power through the use of government machinery and can’t be permissible during the operation of the model code.
“The broadcast of Mann ki Baat on the All India Radio… on central expenses will disturb the level playing field in Bihar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the principal campaigner for the NDA alliance. Level playing field is the basis for free and fair elections and any disturbance with this fundamental of democratic politics amounts to undermining the Constitution,” Singhvi said recalling the last Mann ki Baat where the PM spoke of the Bihar package.
The Election Commission has taken note of the concerns of the grand alliance and will give its decision in the matter in some time amid reports that it may just speak of monitoring the programme’s content instead of blanket banning it. The programme was not suspended during the Maharashtra elections.
The grand alliance is basing its demand on the model code which says: “Issuance of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer and the misuse of official mass media during elections for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of a party in power should be scrupulously avoided.”
Singhvi said monitoring of Mann ki Baat content won’t suffice. “It’s not just PM making Bihar specific announcements in Mann ki Baat we are contesting, any announcement he makes about government’s achievements is bound to upset the level playing field and place the BJP at an unfair disadvantage. The show must be banned in the interest of fair poll,” he said three days after the same set of leaders petitioned the EC to ban (until September 13) four trains the Centre ran from Patna to BJP-ruled states ferrying Bihar residents to show them the so-called fruits of Modi model.
Action in the old complaint is awaited.