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EC disqualifies M.P. Minister Narottam Mishra for three years

Narottam Mishra. File   | Photo Credit: A. M. Faruqui

The Election Commission on Saturday disqualified Narottam Mishra, Minister in the Madhya Pradesh government from membership of any State legislature and contesting polls for the next three years for filing wrong accounts of election expenditure.

Mr. Mishra’s membership has been revoked under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to be read with Sections 77 and 78 of the Act. This relates to providing wrong information to the Commission on expenses incurred during the polls.

Confessions by politicians to EC belie claims of innocence by top newspapers

His election was challenged by Rajinder Bharti (Congress) who had contested against him in the Datia constituency in the 2008 Assembly poll. Mr. Mishra’s election has been termed void.

A protracted case, the matter was heard in the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court after Mr. Mishra tried to get relief from the notice served by the EC, but was unsuccessful.

The EC also took cognisance of a report by the Committee on Paid News of the Press Council of India, that examined this case. The EC had served notice to Mr. Mishra on January 15, 2013.

‘Paid for news’

The EC’s 69-page order cites the issue of “paid news.” Mr. Mishra had paid for favourable coverage in newspapers in Datia during the course of the elections but had failed to mention expenses incurred for the same. Three specific “news items” were mentioned by the EC in order to clarify this point.

Also read: Media Certification and Monitoring Committee finds Mishra guilty of paid news charge

The Congress has demanded Mr. Mishra’s resignation.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he was “yet to see the full order” to comment on the case.

The EC said the three items of ‘paid news’ were in the form of an “appeal” by Mr. Mishra but were attempted to be portrayed as news items — an item in Dainik Bhaskar that appeared on November 27, 2008 with a picture of Mr. Mishra and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the BJP symbol, an item in Dainik Nayi Duniya under the heading “Nayi Duniya Response Features”, carrying a picture of Mr. Mishra and printed on the day of polls, and another in Dainik Datiya Prakash again on November 27, 2008, with Mr. Mishra’s picture and ending with the words “Aapka Dr Narottam Mishra, Bhajapaa Pratyashi Vidhansabha Kshetra.”

“Since the advertisements in question amount to expenditure that the candidate ought to have declared to EC in his election expenses account, since he knowingly took advantage of them — he is presumed to have impliedly authorised the said expenditure and therefore was required to report it, the Commission has decided that the respondent has failed to report the said expenditure,” said the EC order.

Congress, AAP demand resignation

In Bhopal, the Congress demanded the resignation of Mr. Mishra in the wake of his disqualification. “In view of the EC order, he should immediately resign from the Cabinet,” the Leader of the Opposition, Ajay Singh, told PTI. “It has been proved how the BJP Ministers are winning the polls,” Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Mishra is Water Resources and Legislative Affairs Minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.

Mr. Yadav, who is the State Congress president, claimed that the case against Mr. Mishra was related to paid news.

“MP Minister Narottam Mishra disqualified for three years by poll panel for paid news in elections. Big setback for BJP in MP,” All India Congress Committee (AICC) legal, human rights and RTI cell chairman and senior advocate Vivek Tankha said in a tweet.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s M.P. unit also demanded the resignation of the Minister.

However, BJP chief spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya said the party is studying the EC order and will comment only after that on the matter.

An officer close to the Minister said that he is exploring legal options against the EC order.

Considered as number two in the State Cabinet, Mr. Mishra is also holding charge of Public Relations Department. Mr. Mishra was first elected as MLA in 1990. He was elected to Assembly again in 1998 and 2003, and inducted as Minister for the first time in the then Chief Minister Babulal Gaur’s cabinet in 2005. He continued during Mr. Chouhan’s tenure.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 5:44:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ec-disqualifies-mp-minister-narottam-mishra-for-three-years/article19140125.ece

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