Mumbai, Jan 29: As part of the ongoing inquiry on the 'paid news', Members of the inquiry committee set up by the Press Council to examine the issue has recorded the statement of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Chavan was served with a notice by the Election Commission following complaints from BJP that he had allegedly paid to newspapers in exchanged of favorable news before Assembly polls.
“We met the Chief Minister at his official residence 'Varsha" yesterday and recorded his statement on the issue. He denied that he or his associates paid money to newspapers to publish complimentary articles," Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a member of the two-member inquiry committee said in a news agency report.
Thakurta said that the Chief Minister has been asked to inform about his availability for the meeting.
“The Council Chairman Justice GN Ray had sent a letter to the Chief Minister, seeking his time and views on the whole paid news issue," he said.
He added that Chavan had denied that allegation and said that answers to the allegation will be given in the Court.
“We told him this is what senior journalist P Sainath has written. We asked him a lot of questions based on the allegations of paid news. We recorded his statement on a tape recorder," he said.
The Chief minister informed the panel that he would be responding the letter of the chief minister shortly.
“He told us he has received a letter from the Election Commission and that he would be responding to it soon," Thakurta said.
Chief Election commissioner Navin Chawla said that Chavan has been asked to respond to the allegations by Feb 1.
"We have asked the Chief Minister to explain. The letter is returnable on February 1," Chawla had said.
The issue of paid news hit the headlines after BJP alleged the chief minister of spending more money on paid coverage than he had claimed, ahead of the Assembly polls.
Chavan had refuted the allegation stating that he had spent only around Rs 11,000 on paid advertisements.