Election Commission Asks Facebook To Take Down Abhinandan's Photos Posted By BJP MLA
In a first, Election Commission (EC) asked social media giant Facebook to take down two posts of BJP leader and Delhi MLA Om Prakash Sharma, after the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect on March 10. The Delhi MLA posted election advertisements carrying photos of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
The EC also issued a show-cause notice to Om Prakash Sharma for sharing the posters on Facebook and directed the posters be taken down by 14 March, 2019. Along with Abhinandan’s photo, the poster also carried images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah and Sharma himself.
The posts were brought to EC’s notice by a civilian OP Sharma through cVIGIL app, that was launched by the EC to record any violation of the MCC. According to The Indian Express, the EC flagged the posts to Shivnath Thukral, Director, Public Policy, Facebook on 12 March 2019. Facebook spokesperson said that they will work along with the EC and prevent abuse of Model Code of Conduct on its platform.
The concerned posters read, “Modi ji dwara itne kam samay main bahadur Abhinandan ko wapas lana Bharat ki bahut badi kootnitik vijay hai (Abhinandan’s return to India in a short span of time is a dimplomatic victory for Modi).”
The poster further read, “Jhuk gaya hai Pakistan, laut aaya hai desh ka veer Jawan (Pakistan bows down to India’s might, the country’s Braveheart returns)”.
The EC while announcing the dates for upcoming Lok Sabha elections urged political parties to not use photographs of defence personnel during the campaign. In 2013, EC’s directive had “called upon all political parties to advise their candidates and leaders to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel or photographs functions involving defence personnel in advertisements.”
MCC provisions have been applicable to social media since 2013, however, the Commission has failed to act against violations on social media.
@abaruah64 @_YogendraYadav @BDUTT @suchetadalal General advisory issued again 2 political parties 2 advise their candidates/leaders to desist 4m displaying photos of defence personnel or photos f functions invlg defence personnl in advts as part of election propaganda/campaigning pic.twitter.com/fnm21yi9i1
— Sheyphali Sharan (@SpokespersonECI) March 9, 2019
The EC addressed this problem in the wake of reports which claimed that political leaders are asking votes by brazenly using the Indian army in the backdrop of Pulwama attack. A few days back former Navy Chief L Ramdas also urged the EC to prevent politicisation of armed forces.
Replying to the EC’s action, Sharma said that the Election Commission is biased against nationalist leaders like him and he doesn’t understand why EC has issues with him celebrating heroic acts of an army man.