The advertisement in dispute is released by the Chairman of the town panchayat claiming to be on behalf of councillors

A quarter-page advertisement in a Tamil newspaper with the Tamil Nadu government emblem and picture of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa created a flutter on Sunday as the Opposition called it a violation of Model Code of Conduct in force in the district ahead of the Yercaud by-poll.

The advertisement in dispute was released by the Chairman of the town panchayat, claiming to be on behalf of councillors of the local body.

The advertisement titled ‘Two year achievements in Chentharapatti Town Panchayat during Amma’s rule’ listed out the four different schemes for which a sum of Rs. 92.53 lakh was sanctioned by the government in the last two years.

It also had the names of the Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development K.P. Munusamy and Highways Minister Edapadi K. Palanisamy.

Action sought

Representatives of various political parties opposed the release of advertisement, sought action against the officials and elected representatives who released the advertisement.

Reacting to the advertisement, District Secretary (in-charge) of the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) S.R. Sivalingam said that the issue would be taken up by them as a serious violation by the ruling party.

“A petition in this connection will be submitted by the party to the Election Commission of India and CEO on Monday”, he added.

District Collector and District Election Officer (DEO) K. Maharabushanam told The Hindu that he discussed the issue with Chief Elector Officer (CEO), of Tamil Nadu, Praveen Kumar.

“On directions from the CEO, we sent a copy of the advertisement and a report on the incident to him”, the DEO said.

The DEO added that a preliminary enquiry is underway and action would be taken against the persons concerned – elected local body representatives or officials who released the advertisement – based on directions from the CEO.

Following the incident, the Collector also released a press statement clarifying that the publication of all forms of government advertisements had been banned in the district till the Model Code of Conduct is in effect.

Pointing to the CEO’s direction, he said that all political parties – including the ruling party – should not release advertisements, using the government’s funds.

The guidelines added that the sale of any product by government run industries or those that were partly attached to the government should not have any indication of the party symbol or images of party leaders on it.

Stating that this was applicable for the district, Mr. Maharabushanam warned against those who did not take the guidelines seriously.

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