Bhopal: In a crucial verdict amid the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, chief electoral officer of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday banned the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ advertisement used by Congress in its poll campaign in the state.
A cell dedicated to the Election Commission affairs of the BJP had complained to MP’s chief electoral officer Kantha Rao about the ad being aired on FM radio in the state. The ad was approved by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) which deals with the election campaigns of the political parties.
“We had approached the MP chief electoral officer (CEO) with an appeal against the said advertisement,” BJP office bearer advocate Om Prakash Srivastava told News18.
The chief electoral officer heard arguments of both the BJP and Congress on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign projecting himself as a chowkidar (watchman) got a boost after fugitive businessman Nirav Modi was arrested in London. Soon, the Congress picked on the keyword and come up with its own slogan of ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai (watchman is thief)’. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has, at several campaign rallies, referred to the slogan alleging malfeasance in the Rafale deal.
“We referred to Article 375 of the constitution which allows government officers to only permit things within the ambit of the constitutional provisions,” Srivastava said, adding that the term ‘chor’ isn’t permissible under the Article 19 (2), which deals with the Freedom of Speech and does not allow the usage of language which breaches limits of decency and morality.
The BJP office further claimed that since the Election Commission has now banned the said advertisement, it would be automatically binding on other states as well.
However, chief electoral officer Kantha Rao clarified that his jurisdiction was limited to Madhya Pradesh only and the order of banning the said ad was also applicable to the state only.
JP Dhanopia, chairman of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee’s legal cell, told News18 that he was yet to receive a copy of order. “Everyone is using the phrase ‘Chowkidar chor hai’. How can the commission ban it? It appears that the decision was taken under pressure,” said Dhanopia, adding that the party would decide the future course of action after receiving a copy of the original order.