The Aam Aadmi Party has complained to the Election Commission of India against a new 24-hour television channel, NaMo TV, which covers Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns live. The channel, named after Modi, is available on all major Direct to Home platforms.
In a letter on Monday, the AAP said that the launch of such a channel went against the principle of creating a level-playing field for all parties, something that both the Supreme Court of India and the Election Commission have upheld as a prerequisite for elections. The channel defies “this very cardinal principle”, said the letter, addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner. The letter questioned whether this should qualify as a violation of Model Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines to govern the behaviour of political parties to ensure free and fair elections. The poll code’s main focus is to ensure that the ruling party does not abuse its power for electoral gains.
The channel, launched last week, has the prime minister’s face as its logo and is devoted to the coverage of his speeches and rallies. While it is not clear who owns NaMo TV, both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Modi have promoted it on social media.
In its letter, the AAP asked the Election Commission if the BJP had cleared the channel with the Election Commission’s Media Certification and Monitoring Committee, which is tasked with keeping an eye on political advertising and media coverage to identify paid news. “If no permission sought by ECI [Election Commission of India] then what action has been taken in this regard?” the letter asked.
The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 10, after the Election Commission announced the dates for the Lok Sabha polls. The poll body said the elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, with the results set to be announced on May 23.
The prime minister also has a dedicated Namo App and the Narendra Modi website that follows his speeches, campaigns, initiatives and other news related to him. In 2012, when Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, a 24-hour television channel NAMO Gujarat was launched in the state ahead of Assembly elections, reported NDTV.