Amid Assam assembly elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued a notice on Tuesday, March 30, to eight newspapers of the state which carried an advertisement of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the form of a headline stating that the party would sweep all 47 seats where elections were conducted in the first phase on Saturday.
A complaint in this regard was filed by Congress on Sunday at Dispur police station alleging that the advertisements defied the ECI directive, the model code of conduct for elections, and the Representation of People Act, 1951, NDTV reported.
Following the complaint, notices were sent to the eight leading newspapers in which advertisements were published, such as The Assam Tribune, Asomiya Pratidin, Aamar Asom, Niyomia Barta, Asomiya Khabor, Dainik Asam, Dainik Jugasankha, and Dainik Purvodaya.
In the notices, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade demanded the newspapers to provide the Commission with a report clarifying their stance by 7 pm on Monday.
As per officials, the newspapers submitted their reports, which were later forwarded to the ECI.
The Assam unit of Congress filed the complaint against Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP president J P Nadda, and state unit chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass, as well as eight newspapers, for publishing the advertisement in the format of newspaper headlines on Sunday, claiming the party's win in all seats for which polls were held on March 27.
"This is a blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), Representation of People Act, 1951, relevant instructions and media policies issued by the Election Commission of India '', said Niran Borah, chairman of the state Congress legal department.
He pointed out that the BJP leaders and members had resorted to desperate unlawful and unconstitutional steps after realising their inevitable downfall.
Borah said the advertisements were presented on the front page of the newspaper to prejudice the mind of the voters, adding that the intentional, deceptive, and mala fide series of advertisements was in clear violation of Section 126A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which carried a two-year prison sentence and a fine.
He further added that the BJP's large-scale advertisements, which falsely predicted the current assembly election outcome in their favour, directly violated the instruction.
While addressing a press conference, Bora said if the BJP leaders were so confident of winning all the seats in the first phase, why did they spend crores of rupees to put up advertisements in the newspapers.
On April 1, the election to 39 seats will be held in the second phase and 40 seats in the third and final phase on April 6.