The Election Commission has stopped the release of "PM Narendra Modi", a biopic on the Prime Minister, till the end of national elections on May 19. The commission said that any biopic "which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections should not be displayed in the electronic media", effectively banning the screening of the film, just a day before its release, coinciding with the start of elections.
The commission, in its order outlining its decision, said it was vital that "the power of media is not used in such a manner which affects the general conduct" of the elections.
It also said that any complaints on this matter will be examined by a panel headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court had refused to consider a petition by a Congress leader seeking to stop the release of the film, saying "too much of court time is wasted on these non-issues". The top court also said that it was for the Election Commission to decide if the film tilted the balance in favour of the ruling BJP, as alleged by the opposition Congress.
The Congress had alleged that the film's release close to the national election violated the model code of conduct, saying it was designed to "manipulate, influence and impress viewers and voters". The party had earlier told the Election Commission that the film was "no artistic venture. It is a political venture".
Hours after the Supreme Court order, the film was certified by the Censor Board, clearing the way for its release.
"I hope no political parties across India has any problem, because the Election Commission, the CBFC, and all the courts have cleared all the pleas, and our film is ready for release. We are grateful to each and everyone who have prayed for us," the film's producer Sandeep Singh had said in a statement.
Last week, Vivek Oberoi, who plays PM Modi in the film, headlined the controversy surrounding the biopic after he targeted the Congress, wondering "if they are scared of the film or of Chowkidar's danda".
The Congress promptly responded, saying it's a "bogus film of a flop hero, a flop producer and is made on a flop person who has proved to be a zero."
"PM Narendra Modi", directed by Omung Kumar, tells the story of PM Modi's rise to power from his humble beginnings as a tea seller.
(With inputs from Agencies)