Election Commission’s strict regulation regarding paid news has landed some candidates in trouble. The commission has already decided on 56 cases of paid news across the state and many such cases are still pending with it. Following this, candidates are finding it hard to show their election expenses under Rs16 lakh, the limit fixed by the Election Commission (EC).
According to sources, not only Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress candidates, but Independents too are facing EC heat over paid news. This is the first time that the EC has closely monitored media coverage during Assembly elections in the state to identify paid news. The Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMCs) were formed at the district level and were given a free hand to monitor and take decisions on media coverage given to the candidates.
As many more cases of paid news are pending in the districts, it is likely that more candidates may face trouble.
Some of the candidates charged under paid news include Hanuman Beniwal, an Independent from Khimsar constituency. He was accused of paid news after one of his rallies were live telecast for 35 minutes by a news channel at a non-prime time. The Election Commission had thereafter added Rs4.28 lakh to his election expense for this.
Similarly, BJP candidate from Adarsh Nagar Ashok Parnami too was under paid news radar after he had 16-minute media coverage. The EC considered it as paid news and added Rs1.98 to Parnami’s election expenses.