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Chavan guilty in paid news
Congress in jeopardy

The Election Commission has slapped a show cause notice to Ashok Chavan after failing to file his election expenses in the manner as required by the law.

Lead-ChavanThe Congress party’s preparations for the assembly election received a severe jolt as the Election Commission has found former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan guilty of misreporting the poll expenses during the 2009 assembly pools in the state. The Election Commission has asked Chavan to submit his reply within 20 days by reasoning that why he should not be held guilty in connection with the paid news. The Commission held Chavan responsible for not filing the report in the manner it was required by the law.

The statement released by the Commission said, “The commission hereby has decided that the respondent has failed to lodge his account of election expense in the manner required by the act and rules. The commission directs the respondents to show cause in terms of rule 89(5) of the 1961- rules why he should not be disqualified under section 10 (A) of the of the 1951 act. The respondent is detected to submit his representation if any to the commission within 20 days from the date of the receipt of this order.”

The Election Commission rejected the plea of Chavan where he stated that he was not aware about the article published in one of the leading Marathi language newspaper. An allegation for the paid news was framed at Chavan when the flood of full pages on Chavan and his party, hailing this as the “Era of Ashok,” and the “Era of Development,” was published in the a leading Marathi newspaper.

Paid news refers to the practice of disguising advertising as in Journalism.

In 2009, Chavan won from Bhokar assembly seat in Nanded (Maharashtra). His opponent and independent candidate Madhavrao Kinhalkar filed a complaint with the EC accusing Chavan of not revealing his correct poll expenditure and hiding the amount he spent on “paid” supplements in the leading Marathi newspaper. After this complaint, the Commission initiated a probe into the case.

In his defence, Chavan claimed he spent merely Rs.5,379 on newspaper advertisements and Rs.6,000 on cable television in the 2009 state assembly election.

Despite receiving a reply from Chavan the Election Commission is not satisfied with it. The institution is likely to suspend Chavan from his position of MP from Nanded. If this happens then it will be prove to be a major setback for Congress. The party had managed to win merely two Lok Sabha seats and it will reduce to one.

The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee came out in his support of Ashok Chavan. MPCC president Manikrao Thakre spoke to AV and said, “Whatever news articles were published in newspapers spoke not only about Chavan but about other leaders of Congress party too. Chavan is innocent and party members support him in this hour of crisis.”

Congress MLA from Vile Parle, Krishna Hegde defended Chavan and said, “The Election Commission has not held Chavan completely guilty in the paid news case. They have only demanded an explanation from him. I am sure that Chavan will be cleared of all charges after filing his reply.”

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