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Election Commission’s nod to Prime Minister’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday

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The Election Commission on Friday gave the go-ahead to the airing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme on Sunday, provided nothing is said that may be construed as inducement to voters or having an impact on poll-bound Bihar where model code of conduct is in force.

EC issued the order in response to a clarification sought by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on the issue on September 15. The Commission said it also has no objection to pre-broadcast publicity through different channels of AIR and Doordarshan.

“…the Commission has no objection to the broadcast of the programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ over All India Radio on September 20, 2015 and the pre-broadcast publicity through different channels of AIR and Doordarshan subject to the condition that nothing be said therein that may be construed as inducement to voters or as having any impact in election-bound state of Bihar where the Model Code of Conduct is in force from September 9 to November 12, 2015,” EC’s Principal Secretary K Ajaya Kumar said in the order addressed to I and B Ministry Special Secretary J S Mathur.

The Commission has thus rejected a demand made by anti-BJP grand alliance that the PM’s programme be suspended till the elections in Bihar are over.

Representatives of the ‘grand alliance,’ including RJD and JD(U), had on Wednesday approached the Election Commission seeking suspension of the programme till Bihar polls are over, raising doubts that it might be used it to influence voters.

A delegation of the three-party alliance also including Congress, met the Election Commission with the plea to stop broadcast of the Prime Minister’s monthly radio programme.

“Permitting the Prime Minister to organise the Mann Ki Baat programme would be giving a completely unfair advantage to BJP and will upset the level-playing field essential to uphold the neutrality and majesty of the electoral process,” it had said in its petition.

The programme was aired even during Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi assembly polls. Congress had accused the PM of violating the model code in his October 3, 2014 episode. But the Commission “did not find anything” in the broadcast which constituted violation of the model code of conduct.