The Election Commission on Monday rejected a complaint about a Bharatiya Janata Party hoarding that allegedly sought votes by invoking the defence forces. The poll panel ruled t hat the hoarding does not violate its instructions.

The Model Code of Conduct guidelines “pertain to advertisements that are published or displayed at the cost of the public exchequer”, the Election Commission said in its reply to the complainant. “The alleged advertisements enclosed by you do not violate the Commission’s instructions or advisory regarding the use of photographs propaganda using activities of armed forces.”

The complaint was filed by a Mumbai-based Right to Information activist Lokesh Batra, who sent an email to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on April 10 along with a picture of the hoarding on Pedder Road in Mumbai.

The hoarding showed a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the slogan, “Dushman ke ghar mein ghuskar aatankiyon par prahar, phir ek baar Modi sarkar”, which means, “Attack on terrorists after entering the enemy’s territory, once again Modi government”. The advertisement asked voters to choose the lotus symbol and help the BJP win the Lok Sabha elections.

“Does ECI mean that politicisation of armed forces’ activities for vote gains is okay if political parties use party funds?” Batra told “Strangely, the guidelines of March 9 and March 19, 2019, do not mention anything like that. Why ECI’s turnaround? Whom is EC trying to save?”

In March, the Election Commission had issued instructions to political parties and candidates, asking them to keep defence personnel out of election campaigning and not to use their photographs in advertisements. Last month, the poll panel had warned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for violating the directive.

A complaint about Modi allegedly violating the directive was dismissed last week. Speaking in Latur in April, the prime minister had appealed to first-time voters to dedicate their votes to security personnel killed in the Pulwama attack in February.