The chief electoral officer of Gujarat has asked the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) not to proceed with the shooting for its advertisement campaign to promote Gujarat Tourism along with Amitabh Bachchan till the Chief Election Commission from New Delhi takes a decision on the objections raised by Vadodara city Congress and former Congress MP from Chhota Udepur — Naran Rathwa — against the shooting which was scheduled to commence from Monday for three days.
The objections were raised with allegations that BJP-led Gujarat Government might misuse the shooting with celebrity like Bachchan to promote its development claims when model code of conduct was in place to promote its development claims.
Bachchan, a brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism, was scheduled to shoot for advertisements promoting tourism at Vadodara, Pavagadh and Champaner from March 10 to 12.
The Vadodara Congress city unit as well as former Union minister and Congress leader from Chhota Udepur Rathwa have approached the Election Commission, objecting to the proposed shooting of advertisements when model code of conduct was in place.
The Congress party stated that Bachchan’s celebrity status would be encashed by the ruling BJP in the state to woo voters through tourism ads. The complaint was referred by Vadodara district collector to the chief electoral officer of Gujarat, Anita Karwal, who has in turn sought advice from the Central Election Commission on the gravity of the complaint in view of the model code of conduct guidelines.
Karwal told The Indian Express that TCGL has been instructed to ‘put on hold’ its shooting for the tourism advertisements with Bachchan. She said, “We received the complaint over the weekend and we have forwarded it to the Election Commission in New Delhi to seek their advise on whether this shoot can take place during the model code of conduct. The moment we receive a reply from the Election Commission, we will act accordingly.”
Managing Director of TCGL Sanjay Kaul said, “We are yet to go through the communication (from the Election Officer) in this matter. We will issue a formal statement after we have gone through it.”
In a letter sent out to the Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, along with the Vadodara election officers, Congress objected to the shooting of the tourism ads under the “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” tag-line for which Bachchan was to arrive in the city on Monday.
Vadodara city Congress president Narendra Ravat said, “The advertisement is used for promoting development under BJP in Gujarat. We oppose the same as a celebrity of this rank is being used to promote BJP’s false developments (claims) in tourism sector, during election time to market BJP in name of shooting tourism advertisement.”