Union Agriculture Secretary T. Nandakumar on Friday appeared before the three-member Election Commission — Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla and Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath — in connection with the EC’s notice to Union Agriculture Minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar for model code violation.

When the EC asked some details regarding the release of the advertisement in a Marathi daily Lok Satta in Mumbai on October 3 by the Ministry, which was a violation of the conditional clearance given for its release (by the EC), Mr. Nandakumar sought some more time to get back as he wanted to check up with his officials who were dealing with the subject. It gave him time and he was asked to send the respective official on Saturday to the EC for clarification.

Asked why the EC gave its notice to Mr. Pawar, whereas the advertisement was released by the Agriculture Ministry, a senior official said, “obviously the Minister, a political person, will be the beneficiary out of this advertisement. Moreover, his party – NCP, is also contesting the election in Maharashtra where the advertisement was published to influence the voters.”

It is learnt that Mr. Pawar, in his reply to the EC’s notice, denied having committed any code violation and claimed that there could be some misunderstanding of facts regarding clearance given for the advertisement.

Earlier, based on the Agriculture Ministry’s request, the EC, on September 18, gave its nod with the condition that “the advertisement should neither contain photograph nor slogans etc.” Later it received a complaint that the advertisement had violated the model code of conduct since it was with a slogan and message (in Marathi) to the effect, “Dear Farmer, this Kharif season, the rains did not help you. But we will” -Message to Farmer Friends.

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