Days before polls, EC issues 2 notices to Rajasthan Congress over advertisements

Days before polls, EC issues 2 notices to Rajasthan Congress over advertisements

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) Ahead of the November 25 assembly polls in Rajasthan, the Election Commission on Wednesday issued two show-cause notices to the Congress state unit over its advertisements -- one claiming a wave in its favour and another asking people to give missed calls to avail benefits of its poll promises.

The poll panel has asked state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra to respond to the notices by 3 pm on Thursday and 7 pm on Friday, respectively.

Both the notices were issued following complaints filed by the BJP.

In the first notice over the Congress advertisement claiming a wave in its favour, the commission said it appears that the advertisement has been 'designed to look like a news item with the view to disorient the electors'.

'It is not only misleading but also seems aimed at causing a confusion in the minds of the voters regarding the outcome of the election, thereby attempting to disturb the level-playing field,' the poll panel observed.

Asking the state Congress chief to explain by Thursday why action would not be taken against the party for such an advertisement, the commission said, '...in the interim, refrain from utilising this format, content, language and placement of advertisement, which as per your own party's complaint in March, violates the spirit of the Representation of the People Act and the Model Code of Conduct.' The commission was referring to a similar complaint lodged by the Congress against the BJP during the Assam assembly polls.

The EC said the advertisement referred in the complaint 'fails to adhere to the standards expected from a national party'.

In a word of caution, the poll panel said the placement, design and the content of advertisement in the print media, prior to 48 hours of the date of poll, do not require clearance from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee and thus is an action entirely controlled by the respective political parties with financial implications.

The Election Commission's second notice came over an allegation of inducement of voters ahead of the November 25 assembly polls.

The Election Commission said the advertisement in newspapers and on social media, asking people to give missed calls on a mobile phone number to avail benefits of its 'guarantees', was examined and 'has been found to be prima facie violative of...provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.' In its complaint to the poll panel, the BJP had accused the Congress of resorting to 'corrupt' practices by asking people to give missed calls on a mobile number to get benefits of its 'guarantees', or poll promises, if it retains power in the state.

'A registered number was generated for the caller, creating an impression that only the caller would benefit by voting for a particular candidate or party, specifically the Congress party,' the BJP complained earlier this week.

The Congress put up this advertisement in newspapers and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also posted on X about it, the BJP complaint stated.

Chief Minister Gehlot has announced seven 'guarantees' to the people of the state if the party is re-elected.

The seven 'guarantees' are an annual honorarium of Rs 10,000 to women head of family, LPG cylinders for Rs 500 to 1.05 crore families, purchase of dung from cattle rearers for Rs 2 per kg, law for old pension scheme for government employees, laptop or tablet to students taking admission in government colleges, insurance cover up to Rs 15 lakh per family to compensate losses due to natural calamity, and school education in English medium.

Assembly polls in Rajasthan will be held on November 25 and the votes will be counted on December 3. PTI NAB SMN

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