New Delhi: In the ongoing Assembly polls for
five states, the Election Commission has so far issued 167
notices to candidates who allegedly paid for the publication
of news in their favour in various media outlets.
While the maximum numbers of 129 notices have been issued
to candidates in Punjab, where polling was held on January 30,
as many as 38 notices have been issued to candidates in Uttar
Pradesh, where the elections are being held in seven-phases.
There had been no complaints about candidates resorting
to paid news in Manipur and Uttarakhand, which went to polls
on January 28 and 30 respectively, officials said.
A major chunk of complaints on paid news were against
vernacular and regional media publications, they said.
However, no complaint has so far been proved in any of
the cases though the poll panel would take a final view later
and is awaiting the candidates` responses.
EC officials in Delhi said all complaints received in
this respect had been forwarded to the respective Chief
Electoral Officers of the states concerned and they, in turn,
had issued notices.
The complaints would be taken up by the respective
district and state level Media Certification and Monitoring
Poll body officials said there were fewer complaints
involving paid news during Assembly polls this time as the
candidates had become "cautious" of possible fallout.
The EC on October 20, 2011, had disqualified Umlesh
Yadav, MLA from Bisauli Assembly Constituency, after finding
him guilty of getting news published in his favour during 2007
UP polls by paying hefty amount to media outlets.
EC officials said this case had served as a deterrent for
the candidates in future.
However, they admitted that many candidates might be
trying to hoodwink the Commission by evolving novel methods in
connivance with the media houses this time around.
During the state Assembly polls held last year in April
and May, 41 complaints had been received from Kerala, 23 from
West Bengal, 147 from Tamil Nadu and four from Puducherry.
These complaints are still being investigated.
Likewise, in the 2010 November polls in Bihar, 121 such
complaints had been brought to the EC`s notice.
Of these 121 cases, the EC found merit in 12 charges and
forwarded the complaints to the Press Council of India for