The State Election Commission (SEC),some political parties and TV news channels were locked in a controversy on the eve of the BMC elections with the SEC taking umbrage over interviews and advertisements broadcast after the conclusion of campaigning on Tuesday evening.
A FIR was also registered in Mumbai against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and a television channel for allegedly violating the code of conduct. Thackeray was booked under Section 188 (disobeying order duly promulgated by a public servant) and 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code by N M Joshi Marg police late on Tuesday. The MNS president was booked following a complaint by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) for allegedly flouting norms and giving an interview to a television channel after the deadline for campaigning had ended.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Central Region) Vineet Agarwal said the ARO had approached the police on Tuesday evening after Thackerays interview was aired. On the basis of the complaint of the ARO,a case was registered. We are probing the matter, said Agarwal.
The Shiv Sena splashed front-page advertisements in all major Marathi newspapers,the NCP also issued advertisements and the MNS chose to release its poll promises also through advertisements. The Commission said though advertisements are permitted,their nature this time around was different and needed to be examined.
As the matter of interviews was raised by the SEC,television channels informed the Commission that they were following the norms laid down by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).
There is no restriction on advertisements. They have told us that they are following NBA guidelines and that there is no restriction over the telecast of interviews. We are examining their explanation, said Chand Goel,SEC Additional Chief Secretary.
The Commission said currently its focus is on ensuring safe and peaceful voting and counting and respective ROs would initiate action in cases of violation of code of conduct.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Nisar Tamboli,the official spokesperson of the Mumbai Police,said the priority now was to ensure that elections are conducted peacefully.
We have our job set before us. Our focus is to ensure that there is proper deployment of personnel and elections take place without any untoward incidents. As far as this case is concerned,the investigating officer will have to decide on the best move forward, said Tamboli.