Taking strong objection to “quota conspiracy” advertisements put out by the BJP this week in local newspapers in Patna, the Election Commission Friday prohibited the media from carrying such advertisements and directed its chief electoral officer in Bihar to warn the party’s state president against repeating such actions.
Quoting its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution, the EC also directed the concerned district magistrate to initiate penal action against the printer and publisher of the newspapers if found guilty of violation of section 127 A of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Section 127 A of the law imposes restrictions on printing of pamphlets and posters. A violation of this section is punishable with imprisonment up to six months or fine of up to Rs 2,000 or both.
The commission’s action comes in the wake of two print advertisements published as part of a series that BJP has been running in local newspapers.
Called “Jawab Nahin, Vote Nahin (If you have no answer, you get no vote)”, the ads have been asking Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his RJD ally Lalu Prasad a series of questions with the tagline: “Lalu-Nitish jawab do, 25 saalo ka hisab do (Lalu-Nitish, give answers, provide an account of what you did in 25 years).”
One of the advertisements the EC objected to states: “Daliton, pichchado ki thali kheech alpasankhyakon ki aarakshan parosne ka shadyantra kya sushasan hai? (There is a conspiracy to snatch from the plate of Dalits and backwards and serve it to minorities — is this governance?)”
This was published two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Lalu and Nitish of “conspiring” to take away a part of the quota for Dalits, Mahadalits, OBCs and EBCs to give it to “another community”.
The second advertisement in question said , “Voton ki kheti ke liye aatank ki fasal seenchna kya sushasan hai? (Is it governance to sow seeds of terror to reap votes?)”
The poll panel said the two advertisements have the potential to create disharmony and mutual hatred between different communities.