Narendra Modi is “abusing” his power as Gujarat Chief Minister to monopolise advertisement space in Vadodara, Congress today complained to Election Commission, a day after its candidate Madhusudan Mistry tore down posters of BJP’s PM candidate and was arrested.
Accusing the local authorities of bias in allocation of kiosks for election advertisements, the party said that it was “major obstruction in the conduct of fair poll” and asked the poll panel to ensure a level playing field.
“In utter disregard to the mandate of the EC, the local authorities, under the dictate of the Chief Minister Gujarat, and BJP government have usurped and taken over 1000 kiosks, specially earmarked for election advertisements,” K C Mittal, Secretary, AICC legal department said.
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This, he said, was contrary to the instructions of the Commission which wants the municipal authority and the district election officer to ensure that all political parties and candidates get equal opportunity to have access to such advertisement space for election related advertisements during the election period.
The memorandum said Congress candidate Madhusudhan Mistry and Vadodara Congress president Narendra Ravat had requested the DM and Collector to allot half of the kiosks in terms of clause 42 of EC’s instructions.
“Rather than implementing these instructions to grant equal opportunity for canvassing to the Congress candidate, he directed them to approach the municipal commissioner and finally the matter was referred to the district CEO, but until Thursday, no response was received.
“Surprisingly, the district CEO, in order to delay the matter sought for guidance from the State Election Commissioner,” said the complaint.
“The authorities were acting in a total bias manner and obviously under the dictate of the state government as instead of providing 50 per cent space in prime locations or alternative kiosks, the Congress party was told to put up posters on kiosks at remote locations, which is an abuse of the governmental authority in power,” the memorandum read.
Congress said the conduct of the authorities was causing “major obstruction in the conduct of fair poll and since Narendra Modi himself is a candidate, he is losing no opportunity to deprive the Congress candidate to carry out his election campaign and publicity as per the instructions of the ECI.”
Congress urged the Commission to ensure equal opportunity for election campaign.
69-year-old Mistry on Thursday climbed a ladder, carrying his own poster in hand, trying to paste it on the one of Modi hanging on an electric pole on a road divider.
The Congress general secretary and his 33 supporters were arrested and later released by a magistrate on personal bonds of Rs 5000 each.
Police had said charges of rioting, damaging public property and unlawful assembly were pressed against 20 men including Mistry, while the rest were charged with unlawful assembly.