New Delhi: The makers of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi have landed in trouble after the Delhi Chief Electoral Office sent notices to the production house, which had planned to release movie April 5, just days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls kicks off.
The opposition Congress has appealed to the poll panel to stop the film’s release, saying that it is politically motivated rather than artistic and is a clear case of the violation of the model code of conduct.
“The purpose of this film is only political – to get some extra mileage in the elections. We believe, it is not just a corrupt practice, but the very launch of the film is motivated,” Congress leader Kapil Sibal said. “This is no artistic venture. It is a political venture and that is what we have told the Election Commission and should not be allowed. It does not allow for a level playing field,” he added.
Notices have also been sent to the music company and two newspapers, who had carried ads about the movie. They have been asked to respond by March 30.
Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh told the Wire that the broad position is that any political advertisement circulated on electronic media or social media has to be pre-certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.
“If any pre-certified political or surrogate advertisement is circulated, it is a violation of model code of conduct. Whosever has done it is given an opportunity to explain their stand,” the official said.
He indicated that the Election Commission of India (ECI) could form guidelines for political films released during elections.
The opposition party also noted that three producers of the film and actor Vivek Oberoi (who plays Modi) are members of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Other opposition parties, including the DMK and the Nationalist Congress Party, have also asked the electoral authority to ensure that the film is not released.
Former CEC V.S. Sampath, however, did not support banning the move. According to the Wire, he said “there is no restriction on the release of movies” or when a movie is released. “I don’t think there is any model code which bans that.”