On Tuesday, March 26, civil servants complained to the Election Commission (EC) to take action against the biopic PM Narendra Modi due to release on April 5; they believe it violates the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The Delhi Chief Electoral Office said it has issued a notice to the filmmakers and is awaiting a response.
The Lok Sabha elections will take place between April 11 and May 19. Results are on May 23.
With this in mind, the civil servants wrote to the EC, asking it to delay PM Narendra Modi until after the results.
The Vivek Oberoi-starrer follows the life of PM Narendra Modi from his time in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and as Gujarat CM to his present-day role.
The civil servants believe the biopic will injustly influence Indian voters.
The film “would create enormous electoral mileage for the Prime Minister and the party in power,” they said. “It is, therefore, necessary to examine whether the release of this biopic after the announcement of elections and the coming into force of the MCC is consonant with the principles of a free and fair election.”
The group clarified that these principles apply to all parties and candidates, including those in the Opposition.
To these civil servants, the film amounts to “open advocacy of the role of the Prime Minister”; they also said it works as propaganda and immense positive publicity for the ruling party.
Firstpost reported that a district election officer of the East Delhi Parliamentary constituency served a show-cause notice to the filmmakers.
This means the filmmakers must now “show cause” or prove to the EC why it shouldn’t penalise them for violating the MCC.
What is the Model Code of Conduct?
The MCC comes into effect when the general election is announced and stays in force until the results are declared.
The MCC is a list of guidelines for political parties and candidates to ensure a free and fair election. It’s a set of dos and don’ts of behaviour during election season.
It governs overall conduct, meetings, processions, polling booths, days, and even the ruling party.
For example, the MCC states parties cannot use their platforms to incite violence or hatred or use places of worship for campaigning.
The EC also established a similar social media conduct rules this year; it has asked Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others to report and process violations in a timely manner.
Google and Facebook have also released new verification processes for buying advertisements where ad buyers must disclose the purpose of the ad and source of funding.
Any reported violations of the MCC will be dealt with strictly, said the EC.
EC eyes on Modi’s latest speech
There have been some major MCC violations since the announcement of the Lok Sabha election dates.
Most notably, the EC is looking into the speech PM Modi made on Wednesday, March 27.
In a public address, PM Modi announced that India has new anti-satellite missile (A-SAT) capabilities, after successfully shooting down one of its own satellite flying in a low orbit, about 300 kilometres away.
This development puts India on the space technology map. However, the EC isn’t happy.
The Press Information Bureau released a statement on Wednesday evening; it said the EC has set up a committee to review whether Modi’s address violates the MCC rules on use of electronic media.
ANI reported the EC has issued a show-cause notice to BJP National Election Committee member Neeraj for allegedly violating the MCC by sharing an armyman’s video.
Going against the social media conduct rules, Neeraj uploaded a clip titled “Main Bhi Chowkidar Hun-song”. On March 10, the EC asked parties to refrain from sharing any media featuring army personnel.
Neeraj must now respond to the EC within three days.
Other violations of the MCC
Up to Rs 500 crore of cash, bootlegged alcohol, and drugs given as bribes have been seized in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
Highest cash bribes—Rs 107.24 crore, Rs 104.53 crore, and Rs 103.4 crore—were found in Tamil Nadu, UP, and AP, respectively.
The EC has employed observers and surveillance teams to check illegal forms of gratification; these include the exchange of black money, alcohol, and drugs.
Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar also has come under EC fire for criticising Congress’s minimum income scheme.
“Only for the sake of winning elections, they have made the announcement. This is the worst kind of vote politics,” Kumar told India Today. He even denounced Rahul Gandhi.
The EC intervened and said that because Kumar is a “bureaucratic executive”, his comments violate the MCC, which asks politicians not to attack each other.
As election season unfolds, voters need to be more vigilant about how parties and candidates are campaigning.
Like the EC and civil servants moving against the biopic PM Narendra Modi, the Indian public must establish a culture of holding politicians accountable, including those in the ruling party.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.
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