The Election Commission on Thursday banned the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee’s poll campaign, which uses the slogan “chowkidar chor hai”, or the watchman is a thief. The Congress said it will request the poll panel to review its decision, PTI reported.
The poll body took the decision to ban the campaign, which was being promoted via audio and video messages, based on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party had complained to the Election Commission that the slogan uses objectionable language directed against “chowkidar”, which, the BJP claimed, means Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP launched a campaign called “Main Bhi Chowkidar” last month in an effort to reinforce its image as an anti-corruption party. Modi has repeatedly referred to himself as India’s chowkidar, a man who will ensure that nothing goes wrong under his watch. This declaration has prompted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to counter with the taunt “chowkidar chor hai” or “the watchman is the thief”, particularly while alleging corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
The complaint also said that the Supreme Court is hearing a petition by its leader Meenakshi Lekhi, who has alleged that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attributed his remarks on the Rafale jet deal verdict to the top court. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, told the court that the Congress president made a remark that the “Supreme Court has said chowkidar chor hai” in the verdict.
Joint Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Kaul said in his Thursday order that the slogan is being banned because the poll panel’s media certification and scrutiny committee decided to revoke the permission granted to it on April 5.
“The EC gave approval to this campaign and later withdrew the permission, which is unfortunate,” Madhya Pradesh Congress Media Cell Chairperson Shobha Oza told PTI. “Our delegation will meet EC officials Thursday evening.” Oza added that there was nothing objectionable in the slogan as it did not mention any person.