Denied clearance to advertise school scheme, Delhi govt lashes out at EC

Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and Education Minister Manish Sisodia.

The Election Commission has barred the Delhi government from issuing advertisements in print media and radio on its 'Mission Buniyaad' summer camps, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Tuesday.

Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister, said the commission told the Delhi government that while it was free to hold the camps - from May 15 to June 9 - the publicity campaign on the initiative cannot involve newspapers and radio messages and has to be carried out by the schools involved.

"Did ECI question the Prime Minister on why he, and not chairman ISRO/DRDO, made the announcement about ASAT launch while the MCC (model code of conduct) was on? If there was nothing wrong in the PM's announcement, why a general appeal to parents, where neither content nor communicator is political in nature, is not allowed by ECI?" Sisodia wrote in a letter to CEC Sunil Arora.

He also raised the issue of NaMo TV in his letter, questioning the EC for allowing it: "Do you not realise that you are using power arbitrarily?"

The government also released a copy of the EC's communication in this regard. "The Commission has no objection to organising of Mission Buniyaad campaign, subject to the conditions that such appeal is made by the Secretary/Director of Directorate of Education to the parents through school concerned instead of using print and radio media for general appeal. Further, it has to be ensured that the provisions of MCC are strictly adhered to and no political functionaries are involved anywhere/anyway in the matter to get political mileage," Navin Kumar, Under Secretary, ECI, wrote to the Delhi CEO's office.

At a press conference at the AAP headquarters, Sisodia said the ads are important as many parents cannot read and write, which is "a major factor in case of Delhi government schools where children from marginalised families are enrolled in large numbers". Moreover, as children usually go to their ancestral homes during the holidays, the ads are essential, Sisodia said.

"The Education Department approached EC for clearing ads. Surprisingly, it refused…. I don't understand how the text of the ad is objectionable, considering my name is not there…," he claimed.