India’s Election Commission stops Modi biopic release till polls end


New Delhi: Amid a major controversy, India’s Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday ordered stoppage of release of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biopic even as it was considering a complaint against the telecast of NaMo TV.

Earlier, the EC spokesperson had indicated that NaMo TV had also been banned till the end of elections. However, later in the day, she clarified that she had said so because she “misinterpreted” the poll panel’s order on Modi biopic, believing it applied to the TV channel as well.

Regarding the NaMo TV, the spokesperson said some clarifications were sought from the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer on Tuesday regarding pre-certification of political advertisements on the channel by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.

“These clarifications have now been received and are being processed in the Commission,” the official said.

Earlier in the day, the Election Commission stopped the release of Modi’s biopic till the Lok Sabha elections conclude, saying that any material which disturbs a level playing field should not be displayed.

“Any biopic in the nature of biography or hagiography sub-serving the purposes of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it or which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections should not be displayed in electronic media, including cinematograph during the operation of MCC (model code of conduct),” the EC said in its order.

It also said that any poster or publicity material concerning any such certified content which either depicts a candidate for furtherance of electoral prospect directly or indirectly shall not be put to display in the electronic media in the area where MCC is in force.

The order issued by the poll panel added that in case of a violation, a committee constituted by the Commission would examine the same and suggest appropriate action. The committee would be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of any high court.

The EC said it had received complaints about certain films, namely “NTR Laxmi”, “PM Narendra Modi” and “Udyama Simham”, which “claimed to either diminish or advance the electoral prospect of a candidate or a political party in the garb of creative freedom”.

Though the display materials claimed “to be part of creative content, it has been contended that these have propensity and potentiality to affect the level playing field” which is “not in consonance with the provisions of model code of conduct”, it said.

The Commission added there is an emergent need for intervention in such political content “intended (or purported to be) for benefiting or discrediting the electoral prospects” of any candidate or political party, for ensuring a level playing field.