The Election Commission has banned the Congress's "Chowkidar Chor Hai" ad campaign, saying while the order has come from Madhya Pradesh, it will be effective in all states. "If one state has banned it then it will not be shown in other states also," the Election Commission said in Delhi today. It is, however, possible to appeal against the decision, said Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha.
In a letter to Rahul Gandhi's party on Wednesday, Madhya Pradesh joint chief electoral officer Rajesh Kaul had said the Congress should immediately stop the broadcast of the ad campaign.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has been attacking the Prime Minister with the "Chowkidar chor hai" slogan, accusing him of corruption and crony capitalism in the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets. The Congress alleges that the government has accepted an overpriced deal to help the rookie defence firm of industrialist Anil Ambani bag an offset contract with Rafale manufacturer Dassault.
The BJP had objected to the campaign, saying it was a personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has often referred to himself as an anti-corruption "chowkidar" (security guard) at election rallies.
The joint chief election officer also informed all the state district officers to discontinue the Congress ad campaign as the media certification and inspection committee has already cancelled the ad.
Chief Election Officer VL Kantarao has directed that action should be taken against the Congress, news agency IANS reported.
This election season has seen parties and their leaders use language that clearly violated the model code. The poll body has temporarily banned some leaders including Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over their inflammatory speeches.
The Supreme Court had pulled up the Election Commission for failing to take action in cases of code violation, and questioned if it was even aware of its powers to force errant political leaders to fall in line.
A series of suspensions were announced the same day. The other two leaders handed temporary bans were Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi.