Opposition parties want paid news to be declared electoral malpractice

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (ANI): All opposition parties on Saturday favoured amendments to the Representation of the People Act to declare paid news as an electoral malpractice.

Participating in a seminar on "Paid News Syndrome," organised by the Editors Guild and the Indian Women's Press Corps, leaders of different political parties claimed that they are victims of 'paid news syndrome' during elections.

Addressing the seminar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat suggested declaring paid news as electoral malpractice.

"Paid news should be declared an electoral malpractice," Karat said.

He felt a major hurdle in stopping the syndrome was that there was no record of money exchanged in such deals.

Karat added that those who paid money too should be held accountable.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, supported Karat's suggestion to declare paid news as malpractice.

Swaraj said since the Election Commission was not adequately empowered to deal with the issue, a bill should be introduced in Parliament to amend the Act.

She said the model code of conduct does not cover the issue of malpractice and added "It should be done. I endorse the suggestion."

Narrating her experience during campaigning in Madhya Pradesh's Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency Swaraj said she was offered a "package of Rs 1 crore by a media organisation" to write news in her favour.

She opined that paid news phenomenon has become institutionalised over the years and said her party was ready to name publications, which approached it for publishing news during elections.

Apart from Karat and Swaraj, Election Commissioner S. Y. Quresh, Editors Guild chairman Rajdeep Sardesai and Congress Party Spokesman Manish Tiwari also addressed the seminar. (ANI)

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