New Delhi: The Delhi Chief Electoral Office said on Monday that it is awaiting a reply from the makers of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scheduled to be released on April 5, after it felt that the film violated the model code of conduct.
East Delhi returning officer K. Mahesh had on March 20 suo motu issued notices to the production house and music company behind the film PM Narendra Modi and two leading newspapers for publishing advertisements of the film.
Delhi chief electoral officer Ranbir Singh said the concerned parties have been given time till March 30 to respond.
He said the broad position is that any political advertisement circulated on electronic media or social media has to be pre-certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.
“If any pre-certified political or surrogate advertisement is circulated, it is violation of model code of conduct. Whosever has done it is given an opportunity to explain their stand,” the official said.
The returning officer also suggested that the Election Commission of India (ECI) could form guidelines for political films released during elections.
“We are looking into it. We will send the recommendations to the poll body,” Singh said.
The Congress party has appealed to the poll panel to stop the film’s release, saying that it is politically motivated rather than artistic.
“The purpose of this film is only political – to get some extra mileage in the elections. We believe, it is not just a corrupt practice, but the very launch of the film is motivated,” Congress leader Kapil Sibal said. “This is no artistic venture. It is a political venture and that is what we have told the Election Commission and should not be allowed. It does not allow for a level playing field.”
The opposition party also noted that three producers of the film and actor Vivek Oberoi (who plays Modi) are members of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In all their objections, political leaders have alleged that the film is an attempt to woo voters and therefore should classify as campaign material.
While the trailer and all other promotional material makes clear that PM Narendra Modi is a fawning rendition of Modi’s life, a number of former election commissioners told The Wire that the film’s release does not violate the model code of conduct.
Former CEC V.S. Sampath said that “there is no restriction on the release of movies” or when a movie is released. “I don’t think there is any model code which bans that.”
(With PTI inputs)