The Election Commission will wait for the counter of the complainant (BJP) before taking further action on the reply sent by Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on the allegations that he encouraged “paid news” during the Assembly polls last year and that he did not account for this expenditure in his election accounts.
The Full Commission — Chief Election Commission Navin Chawla and Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath — took the decision following a meeting. Official sources said Mr. Chavan’s reply would be sent to the BJP and its counter sought within a time frame.
On January 6, a BJP delegation, led by its Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde, met the full Commission and sought strong and punitive action against Mr. Chavan, who “abetted” in the “errant action of the press.”
The party submitted newspaper clippings, including those from The Hindu (which exposed the new form of media corruption), to the EC in support of its allegation and said Mr. Chavan had “grossly undervalued his election expenditure.”
Later, the EC sought comments from Mr. Chavan. He denied having paid money for the news and said nowhere was there any mention of seeking votes in his favour. He also questioned the authority of the EC to send such a letter, as an election petition was pending before the Aurangabad Bench of the Maharashtra High Court and the matter was sub judice.