NH-43 in Batauli: Many locals want better roads. (Express photo)
The ruling BJP’s objection to an advertisement campaign, “Gussa Aata Hai’’ (I get angry), on the ground that it would instigate people to resort to violent rebellion against the administration has been rejected by the Election Commission.
The campaign has a farmer and a trader expressing dissatisfaction with the BJP government over falling prices of agriculture commodities, demonetisation and GST in two separate videos that end with an appeal to vote out the present government. Another video has a woman accusing the government of not ensuring safety of women.
“The reel (video) about the angry farmer can create widespread resentment. The anger could be so strong that the possibility of people resorting to violent rebellion against the administration cannot be ruled out. The administrative inefficiency mentioned in the video is creating a feeling among farmers that they would rather not vote ‘let the election go to hell’,’’ reads the objection raised by the BJP, claiming that “reports to this effect are pouring in and if the EC does not act it will be an attack on democracy”.
Referring to the model code of conduct, the ruling party argued that it insists one should get work done by tolerance and not by resorting to savage voices. “Anger itself is part of violence and can create violent situation,” the party claimed.
Insisting that the videos were not based on facts and were misleading traders, the BJP said the Opposition could have presented its plan to expose inadequacies in government schemes rather than creating ill-will among traders against the government and provoking them to abstain from voting.
After the objection was raised, the EC issued a notice to the Congress and heard the matter on Tuesday. Joint Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Kaul told The Indian Express that a committee headed by Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao heard the matter and dismissed the objection.
Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza, who appeared for hearing, said that by seeking a ban on advertisements, the ruling party had admitted that the campaign was hurting it. She said the objections were baseless because the campaign involved a hapless farmer and trader affected by the government’s policies as also a woman raising her voice against violence.
BJP spokesman Deepak Vijayvargiya said they objected to the campaign because it was devoid of truth and was misleading sections of society. The campaign sought to create an atmosphere of distrust and incite people to resort to violent means, he said, adding “it appeared as if the campaign was created by a left-wing extremist”.
The EC also allowed the Congress to go ahead with its campaign “mama to gayo” (mama, a sobriquet used for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is gone)”. The Congress had stopped this campaign after objections were raised against it.