The Shiv Sena today claimed that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis violated the code of conduct by giving interviews to media outlets after the end campaigning for local body polls, and filed a complaint which is being examined by the State Election Commission (SEC). “The chief minister went on an interview-giving spree even after the campaign period ended. While talking to TV channels, the chief minister wore a badge of lotus (BJP poll symbol).
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“This is a gross misuse of government machinery and violation of code of conduct. He is trying to influence voters,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut told reporters here.
Campaigning for the February 21 elections to 10 municipal corporations, including Mumbai, and a clutch of Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis, ended last evening.
“If the chief minister gets permission to campaign in this manner after the (canvassing) period is over, all should get permission. We think his day-long interviews are a case of paid news,” Raut said, claiming Fadnavis has violated the Representation of People Act.
Sena leaders have submitted a written complaint to the State Election Commission (SEC) in this regard, he said. “If the Commission does not take action against him, we will have to think about approaching the Court.”
The Sena MP claimed Fadnavis is trying to “threaten” the Opposition parties using Government machinery.
Asked for comment over the issue, State Election Commissioner J S Saharia said the Sena’s complaint will be verified.
“We have received the complaint. The SEC works under the framework of Constitutional law. If there is any violation of law, we shall act. We will verify the complaint,” he said.
To another query, Saharia said, “Bulk ads in print or TV and paid bulk SMSs are banned. But we can’t take any action on what is done by people in their individual capacity.”
Meanwhile, responding to the Sena allegations, BJP said the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has insulted the fourth pillar of democracy by levelling charge of paid news with regard to Fadnavis’ interviews.
“The Sena has already conceded defeat and is thus coming out with new allegations everyday that have no substance. They have no trust in people and their decision-making ability,” BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said.
“The chief minister follows all rules and regulations, and won’t do anything that violates poll code,” he added.
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