EC’s order to ban political ad in Bihar can change India’s electoral battle rules

A strongly-worded advisory sent to the chief electoral officer to ensure that two controversial BJP ads were not published till the election process was over

GN Bureau | November 5, 2015



This could set a precedent for Indian election process and bring a semblance of order to political debate. Extending its mandate to hold free and fair elections, the election commission had directed political parties not to publish ads in newspapers without its approval in Bihar. This is the first time that the commission went for such a kind of pre-censorship of political ads.

Bihar is voting for the crucial last and fifth phase today. The fifth phase today will see voting in 57 of 243 constituencies. Counting is scheduled for Sunday.

The directive on vetting of political advertisements came after the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance complained to the EC on Wednesday about a BJP ad in Bihar newspapers that brought up the beef controversy in an attack on the chief minister.
The EC pointed out that it had asked parties to submit copies of ads that they wanted to publish, but this hadn't been done.

The EC had last week issued a strongly-worded advisory asking the chief electoral officer of Bihar to ensure that two controversial BJP ads were not published till the election process was over.

One attacked RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar on reservation, the other on vote-bank politics. Wednesday's BJP ad featured a third controversy - beef. It showed a woman hugging a cow and attacked Nitish Kumar on his "silence" over statements made by Lalu Yadav and other allies.

"Stop vote bank politics and explain whether you endorse these statements," the ad said, listing three comments including Lalu Prasad's statement from last month, "Don't Hindus eat beef too? It is the poor who are forced to eat beef. People eat (beef) outside the country too. What difference does it make?"

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