The expense incurred in running NaMo TV, a new cable TV and IPTV channel named after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and designed to promote him, will be added to the poll expenses of the BJP and not that of Modi.
Sanjiv Kumar, Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat, said, “The ECI has clarified that if any star campaigner of any party does any kind of election propaganda through any electronic media (TV, radio or other), even if he or she happens to be a candidate of any constituency, it will be considered as party expense only till the time the star campaigner does not use his or her constituency’s name or appeal to vote for him. If the star campaigner uses his/ her constituency’s name, the expense will be counted as his/ her personal expense. All such appeals made in the media to vote for his/ her party in general to the voters will be considered as party expense only.’’
Modi is the most important star campaigner for the BJP in the upcoming elections, so going by the EC’s version any expense made by him on NaMo TV will be counted as the BJP’s expense.
The channel had received broadcasting clearance from the Election Commission of India about two weeks ago. Considering complaints lodged by Gujarat Congress, the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat, had sought clarification from the ECI last week. The state BJP had also asked for clarification on the issue a few days ago.
Last week, Anita Karwal, Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat, said, “Expenses of the political party do not come under the expense limits of the candidates. Our role is to take the expense accounts of the party after election. We can only take action if candidates overshoot their expense limit.’’
The EC gave its nod to the launch of the channel after the District Electoral Officer of Ahmedabad, where the channel is headquartered, sought the EC’s permission before granting licence to the channel.
A senior BJP leader, welcoming the EC’s clarification, said, “As this kind of TV channel is already present in many other states and is considered as party expense, we were sure of the outcome.” When asked about the approximate expenditure of NaMo TV, the leader declined to comment.
It is believed that the expense of running the channel for two months is going to run into crores, in the form of fees paid to cable operators,