Sena, Congress allege Aamir’s ‘vote kar’ ad violated code of conduct, BJP says rivals desperate
A full page advertisement featuring superstar Aamir Khan sparked controversy on Tuesday, with Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress alleging that the ad violated the election code of conduct by promoting rival BJP in the BMC polls.
The model code of conduct prohibits political parties from carrying out any promotions in the 48 hour period prior to elections.
The ad, paid for by Mumbai First NGO, spoke about civic issues and urged Mumbaikars to go out and vote. It featured a prominent picture of actor Aamir Khan, with the slogan, “Vote Kar Ya Crib Kar”.
The ad has enraged rivals Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP, who have written to the Maharashtra State Election Commission demanding action against BJP.
After the ad came out, Yuva Sena leader Dharmendra Mishra wrote to the SEC alleging that the advertisement was published with the intention of influencing voters.
“CM Devendra Fadnavis with advertising agency ‘Madison’ and actor Aamir Khan is promoting feeling of hostility and defaming the Shiv Sena,” he said.
He also alleged that that the ad indirectly urged people to vote for a party other than the ruling Shiv Sena.
“I wish to bring to your knowledge that the images and words quoted in the newspaper clearly talks about change of government, which is nothing but an act of their corrupt practises. Such ad in newspaper amounts to violation of code of conduct,” he added.
Even Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant made a similar observation, especially pertaining to the use of words “change” and “transparency” in the ad.
“The advertisement in English and Marathi newspapers clearly highlights the issues of transparency and change promoted by the BJP,” said Sawant, adding that the NGO has a close association with CM Devendra Fadnavis.
Nationalist Congress Party’s Nawab Malik also pointed to an order of the Election Commission, saying no advertisement can be published 48 hours prior to the polling day.
“The BJP has a role to play in this advertisement. The NCP will take up the issue with the SEC and ensure an FIR is filed against those involved,” he said.
The ad cited issues like potholes, garbage, stinking sea shores, traffic jams and slums, and stated that the solution was “to act and not just complain”.
In response, State Election Commissioner J S Saharia said that any organisation can point out issues. However, action will be taken if they have vested interests.
“Raising issues faced by citizens for awareness in the election is the right of any organisation. We will take action if a nexus is proved by the complainant,” Saharia said.
Mumbai First CEO Shishir Joshi, on his part, maintained that the sole purpose of the advertisement was to encourage citizens to vote.
BJP, meanwhile, has refuted the charges levelled by rival parties.
“They are free to lodge a complaint. It is clear that the Sena and Congress are losing the battle. Hence, they are making such false charges,” said BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty.
“They are crying foul because both the parties have no hope left in the BMC polls,” Shetty added.
Ruling partners Sena and BJP ended their alliance after the latter refused to accept the number of seats offered by Sena, which is the senior partner in the BMC. The decision led to the termination of their two-decade old partnership.
BJP has its eyes set on gaining power in BMC despite Sena’s threat of pulling the plug on the state government. Earlier Thackeray had even put the state government on “notice period” after the campaign started.
Yesterday’s poll saw 55 percent voting, highest in last 25 years, and is being viewed as a two-way race between the ruling Sena and BJP. The vote counting will begin on February 23.