The Election Commission on Thursday said it has sought Doordarshan News for specific details after a complaint alleged that the channel was used to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Main bhi Chowkidar” event held on March 31, PTI reported.
“We have asked them [DD News] as to how are you allocating time for various political parties’ coverage and also, there is a standard time allocated to a particular party and how is this being done,” said Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena. He said the poll body has sought a response from DD News.
The Congress had asked the poll panel on April 1 to issue urgent and necessary directions to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati and to take action against Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for “using government-owned news channels as a tool to promote and advertise their election campaign”.
A memorandum submitted by the party to the poll panel said that the “Main bhi Chowkidar” programme was broadcast live on DD News, its YouTube channel and promoted on its social media channels. “This broadcast undermines the fundamental task which falls to the commission: to ensure a level-playing field for all candidates and political parties,” the Congress had said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said that it was “unacceptable and shameful” that Doordarshan and All India Radio are being used to propagate political programmes of the prime minister. “Whether it is Doordarshan or All India Radio, they have been subjugated and made departments of the BJP to propagate and preach the political programmes of the party,” he had said. “It crosses all limits of acceptability and decency, as also public conduct.”
The prime minister had launched the campaign on March 16 to counter Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidar chor hain” jibe. The next day, he and several party members added the prefix “chowkidar” to their Twitter handles. On March 20, Modi had addressed over 25 lakh chowkidars from across the country.
The Model Code of Conduct has been in place since March 10, when elections were announced.