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Aamir Khan violated model code of conduct?

Political parties and activists urge state election commission to file FIR against the actor for misleading advertisement published in newspapers.

Congress party has expressed its displeasure over advertisement of actor Aamir Khan published in a leading newspaper appealing people to come forward and vote. According to the party the words used in the advertisements like transparency and change are hinted towards BJP which has been using development as it poll agenda to woo voters. The party said that ad clearly influences people to vote for BJP. Congress has filed a complaint with the state election commission (SEC) and mentioned that ad is a violation of the poll code of conduct. The party also claimed that the NGO Mumbai first has promoted the agenda of BJP and it was also close to the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The state election commission has stated that it will look into this issue.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “I have already raised this issue with the state election commissioner. The advertisements published in English and Marathi newspapers violate the model code of conduct. The organisation has appealed to voters but has clearly mentioned and highlighted the words transparency. Everybody is aware that BJP has often used the words ‘transparency’ and ‘change’ to connect with voters.”

RTI activist Anil Galgali said, “Even though Aamir Khan had appealed to voters to exercise their franchise he himself didn’t vote. Why did he not cast his vote? What is the purpose of spending crores of rupees on advertisements on such misleading advertisements?”

The SEC had banned any political advertisement after 5.30 PM on February 19, the deadline of campaigning. Mumbai recorded 55 per cent voter turnout which is a record considering the dismal polling percentage witnessed by the city in the preceding elections.

Even Shiv Sena has approached the State Election Commission and called for strict action to be taken against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for luring voters. The complaint was filed by Yuva Sena officer-bearer Dharmendra Mishra.

“The words and images published in the newspaper is misleading and is only meant to influence voters. It is a hidden advertisement of the BJP. Ban must be imposed on such advertisements and voters have a right to take informed decision,” said Mishra.

Both Congress, Sena and activists have urged the state election commission to file FIR against the actor.

State Election Commissioner J S Saharia said, “Raising the issues faced by citizens for awareness in the election is the right of any organisation. We will take action if a ‘nexus’ is proved by the complainant,” he said.

However, sources said the watchdog was helpless due to lack of clear guidelines pertaining to surrogate advertisements and interviews given to media houses.

“We need proof which says payments were made by the BJP for Khan’s advertisement, which is a tough to prove in such cases,” said an official.

On the other hand, BJP has termed that the allegations made by Congress and Shiv Sena against it was baseless. BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty said, “Both parties can register their complaint. Sena and Congress are making such false charges as they are losing the battle. They don’t expect to win the civic body polls and hence they are complaining against us.”.

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