BJP-backed NaMo TV goes off-air after Lok Sabha elections
For the Lok Sabha elections, which ended on May 19, BJP went all out as far as campaigning was concerned. NaMo TV, which was backed by the party, also became a part of the high-pitched campaign. And now, the television channel which stoked controversy and prompted Election Commission to act has mysteriously disappeared from DTH platforms. The channel has gone off-air, claimed multiple reports.
Backstory: NaMo TV suddenly appeared on DTH platforms
NaMo TV appeared on DTH platforms like Tata Sky, Videocon, and Dish TV, on March 31, a couple of days before the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections started. Viewers were able to see the channel for free and many complained they couldn't unsubscribe it either. The channel aired Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speeches, BJP's schemes; Opposition parties said it violated Model Code of Conduct.
Opposition leaders asked how NaMo TV got permission
As NaMo TV entered drawing rooms across the country, leaders wondered how did it get permission from the I&B Ministry. In response, the Ministry said the channel "did not require uplinking/downlinking permissions" as it was an "advertising platform". There was also contention over who owned it. Though BJP denied connection at first, the saffron party confirmed it was run by its social media cell.
Taking cognizance of numerous complaints, EC took action
As the channel gained attention, the EC took action. The polling watchdog said that no pre-recorded programs would be aired on NaMo TV without prior approval. Apart from this, EC asked NaMo TV to maintain a "silence period" of 48 hours before each phase of elections. EC also added that all expenditure of NaMo TV should be properly identified and attributed to candidates.
BJP leader said NaMo TV wasn't needed anymore
Now that elections have ended the channel went off-air as quietly as it made an appearance. "NaMo TV was meant as a tool of BJP campaign for the Lok Sabha election. With the polls over, it is no longer needed, so effectively from May 17, when all campaign has to be paused, it has also gone off air," a BJP leader told PTI.
Apart from NaMo TV, EC also took action against movie/web-series
Not only NaMo TV but other items which could have affected polls also came under EC's radar. EC stalled the release of PM Narendra Modi, a biopic on PM Modi starring actor Vivek Oberoi in the lead. The polling body concluded that the content of the movie might affect level fielding during polls. A web-series on PM Modi was also pulled down.
Notably, several Opposition leaders accused EC of being partial
Though EC took action against BJP, Opposition leaders have been claiming that it was partial towards BJP. On Sunday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted EC used to be feared and respected, once upon a time, but this isn't the case anymore. However, former President Pranab Mukherjee snubbed Rahul and opined that the elections were conducted fairly. "You cannot criticize them," he said on Monday.
Rahul mentioned NaMo TV in tweet to slam EC
From Electoral Bonds EVMs to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, “Modi’s Army” now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi his gang is obvious to all Indians.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 19, 2019
The EC used to be feared respected. Not anymore.