NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has issued a detailed guidelines on conduct and news coverage of the upcoming 2018 state Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana. The advisory prohibits display of any election matter on any medium 48 hours before the conclusion of a poll in any constituency.
Advising television, radio channels and cable networks to stop broadcasting any material that could effect the prospect of any candidate or influence election result, the poll body writes, “During elections, there are sometimes allegations of violation of the provisions of the above Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 by TV channels in the telecast of their panel discussions/debates and other news and current affairs programmes. As mentioned above the said Section 126 prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency. “Election matter” has been defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election. Violation of the aforesaid provisions of Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment up to a period of two years, or with fine or both.”
The EC also prohibited the conduct of “Exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period reckoned from the commencement of polls in first Phase and half an hour after the close of poll in last phase in all the State, in respect of current round of elections.”
With several political parties flouting guidelines and opposition questioning EC's objectivity during the last Assembly elections, the poll body issued the explicit advisory and warned of strict actions.
The elections in Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases on November 12 and 20. The other four states will go to polls in a single phase. Voting in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will be held on 28 November while voting in Rajasthan and Telangana will be held on December 7. The counting of votes will be held on December 11.