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Poll panel should take cognisance of BJP's huge spending on adverts: Cong

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: November 23, 2018  | 21:10 IST

New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) The Congress Friday demanded the Election Commission (EC) take immediate cognisance of the BJP's huge spending on advertisements, saying the saffron party had become a top advertiser on TV in the months leading up to polls in five states. The party also said the EC also must see the impact of the BJP's spending on the electoral process. Polls in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram are scheduled to be held on November 28, and in Telangana and Rajasthan on December 7. Elections in Chhattisgarh were held in two phases on November 12 and 20. Quoting Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) data for the week ending November 16, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari claimed that the BJP was the biggest advertiser in the country. "The BJP is the biggest advertiser in India, beating even Vimal Pan Masala. It is not that this is an aberration for the week ending November 9, BJP was at number two. "So, for quite a while the BJP has been a very-very large spender in the media space," he said during a press conference at the Congress officer here. There was no immediate reaction from the BJP on the claims of the Congress. The ruling party has surpassed leading streaming player Netflix and e-commerce giant Amazon India, in its spending on advertisements, Tewari, a former Union information and broadcasting minister, claimed. "They (BJP) kept claiming that we are a party with a difference and what these advertising reflect is a clear nexus between big capitalist or rather between big business and big politics. This is big crony capitalism personified. This is the quintessential ‘Soot Boot ki Sarkar’," he said. Demanding that the EC take cognisance of the BJP's spending on advertisements, the Congress said the poll panel must summon the BARC data. There is a need to find out what does the BJP, being India's top advertiser, mean in monetary terms, the party said. "How much money is the BJP spending on advertising in this election and we want the EC, we demand from the Election Commission that they must take serious cognisance of its impact on the probity, on the transparency, and on the integrity of the electoral process," Tewari said. Terming the BJP's huge advertisement budget as "gross use and abuse of the muscle of money", he said though elections in one state was over, the others are still to go for polls, and hence, "we demand that the EC should take immediate sou-moto cognisance of this BARC data, translate it into monetary spends and see what the impact of this is on the electoral process". However, he categorically said the Congress does not have any problem with the electronic media or the print media accepting advertisements. "We absolutely have no problems that. After all, the media like any other businesses is a business, and a business has its bottom lines, it has shareholders, it has salaries to pay and as someone who has looked at the backend of media, I can understand, we can understand that imperative," the Congress spokesperson said. PTI JTR JTR ANB ANB

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