A controversial letter sent out by Punjab’s additional chief electoral officer DPS Kharbanda asking political parties not to play the video clip of former AAP member Kumar Vishwas’s statement against AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. On any media platform, was withdrawn by the Punjab CEO’s office within hours on Thursday.
The letter, sources told TOI, sent out by the additional CEO without the knowledge of the Election Commission and reportedly not approved by the state CEO either. The EC has taken a serious view of the matter and may take action against the additional CEO who issued the letter.
The bizarre development came on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up Vishwas’s statement, saying how a “former close aide” of Kejriwal had leveled a dangerous allegation against the latter.
“These people want to break Punjab and the country. They are ready to join hands with separatists to get power. Their agenda is not different from the agenda of the country’s enemies and Pakistan,” PM Modi said while addressing a public meeting in Punjab.
Also Punjab’s additional CEO Kharbanda, in the letter sent out after a complaint received from AAP. Stated that the state-level media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC) disapproved of political parties using Vishwas’s interview. In which he claimed that Kejriwal had once told him that he would either become chief minister of Punjab or “prime minister” of an independent nation (Khalistan). The letter asked all political parties in Punjab to stop playing the clip, saying that it violates the model code of conduct.
Interestingly, it is not MCMC’s brief or purpose to restrain the parties or media from playing any video clip. It only meant to give prior clearance to the content of parties’ ad campaigns in the media during polls.
Also Speaking to the TOI on Thursday, Punjab CEO S Karuna Raju said the letter has been “completely and comprehensively” withdrawn with immediate effect. But He said restraining any party from broadcasting or playing any content on media platforms was not the job of the election authorities. “The language used was completely wrong. The letter went out inadvertently. I ordered its withdrawal within two hours after taking note of it,” he said.
After Vishwas’s interview to ANI started circulating on media platforms, AAP co-in-charge Raghav Chadha had raised objections. AAP also filed a complaint with the CEO’s office saying that the video published by Vishwas with other parties to execute vested political interests and exploited by Congress by sharing on various media platforms. The party further alleged that Vishwas’s “provocative and communally divisive” interview maliciously manufactured. It was being “circulated in collusion with disruptive elements” to defame Kejriwal and promote communal hatred with an intent to create unrest and disharmony across Punjab and disrupt free and fair elections.
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