BJP's TV channel comes under EC scrutiny

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Ahmedabad, Oct 12 (UNI) The ''Vande Gujarat'', a local channel run by BJP supporters in Gujarat, came under scurtiny of the Election Commission after the Congress and other parties objected to the advertisements carried by it on Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his government's achievements.

Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy told reporters that such advertisements could be shown by any political party but not by the ''government at its expense''.

The Commission said it would look into the allegation that some cable operators in the state were being forced to carry the channel in their network.

Both the Congress and the BSP have attacked the ruling BJP for floating the ''Vande Gujarat'' channel for BJP's ''propaganda''.

BSP leader Nalin Bhatt alleged that the channel was just an ''exercise'' by the government to build the image of Chief Minister Narendra Modi by misusing public money.

''Such a practice is simply unacceptable to the people of Gujarat,'' said Mr Bhatt, who was a minister in the Keshubhai Patel-led BJP government before 2001. Last year, he parted ways with the party after being suspended for speaking out publicly against Mr Modi for the latter's ''autocratic'' functioning.

The Congress has alleged that hoardings of Mr Modi could still be seen in the premises of a government hospital, in violation of the model code of conduct. It also criticised the government for having floated the ''Vande Gujarat'' channel.

The Gujarat government had reportedly hired a company to start the ''Vande Gujarat'' channel. Since early this month, it had been airing government-sponsored programmes that showed the Chief Minister's achievements and tried to answer his critics. Through the ''Vande Gujarat'' channel, the BJP is keen to show 32 documentaries that would reach about 16 million people of the state.

The BJP, on other side, claimed that the Congress-led UPA government had put pressure on the Prasar Bharati Broadcasting Corporation over the last few months to blacklist the party coverage, which it said, forced the party to launch its own channel.

The BJP had even staged ''dharnas'' outside the offices of the Prasar Bharati in Ahmedabad and Rajkot during the last few months.


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