The Election Commission’s media monitoring committees have confirmed that four Lok Sabha candidates from Maharashtra, including the Congress’ Milind Deora, Vishwajeet Kadam and Sanjay Nirupam, resorted to paid news. The BJP’s candidate in Pune, Anil Shirole, has also been charged on this count.

The Election Commission had appointed Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) at the district and State levels to look into allegations of paid news. The Pune district committee upheld the charge against Mr. Kadam and Mr. Shirole, both of whom contested from Pune. Both appealed before the State committee, which too upheld the charge.

The Mumbai district committee levelled paid news charges against Mr. Nirupam and Mr. Deora. They initially appealed to the State committee, but later withdrew the appeal.

“Any candidate who is found to have resorted to paid news can either agree to include the fee for the media coverage in his election expense or approach a higher forum. He can appeal from the district committee to the State committee and finally to the EC,” said journalist Jatin Desai, who is part of the State MCMC.