Model code restricts issue of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in any media

The model code of conduct has come into effect in Karnataka since March 20 when the Election Commission announced the schedule of elections for the State Assembly. However, in violation of the code, the State government continues to carry advertisements praising the incumbent government on its official website.

The government has posted links to advertisements titled “Karnataka Success Stories 2008-2013” on its official website (karunadu.gov.in). The two volumes each in Kannada and English are posted on the home-page of the website. As per the initial pages of advertising volumes, it has been published by the Information Department.

Achievement list

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in his message in the brochure says: “We are pleased to present the success stories of our government. In spite of the severe constraints we have worked together to mobilise all the resources that we could garner in support of the people’s development.”

In the initial pages of the volume I, the government has listed 253 achievements. In the following pages it has brief description of various schemes and corresponding pictures.

The website also carries another link named “Bhavya Bhavishyakke Besuge” on its home-page. The link takes you to another gallery of pictures showing Mr. Shettar at different events. This also speaks of the BJP government’s programmes at length.

Besides this, the same website still carries a separate slug — Government’s Achievements — taking the visitors to a booklet designed and published in 2011 to mark three years’ completion of the BJP government.

The pages of the booklet carry pictures of the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa launching various schemes during his tenure.

The model code of conduct restricts issue of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in any form media or misuse of official media. The poll code, published by the Election Commission of India says: “Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in newspapers and other media and misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided”.

CEO reacts

When The Hindu brought the issue to the notice of Anil Kumar Jha, Chief Electoral Officer, he said that the model code of conduct restricted carrying advertisements on the official wesbites of the government.

“The Election Commission has given clear instructions to the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretaries of the government to avoid posting any advertisements on the official websites. We will look into what you have brought to our notice,” he said.

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