Apart from opposition parties, 47 civil servants had signed a letter, asking for the polling body to delay the biopic's release until May 23.

EC issues notice to makers of PM Narendra Modi for violating Model Code of Conduct
news Controversy Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 12:57

Days after the trailer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biopic starring Vivek Oberoi released, the Election Commission has said that the film may have violated the Model Code of Conduct. The Chief Delhi Electoral Office has sent a communication regarding the same to the filmmakers and are awaiting a response.

According to news agency PTI, East Delhi Returning Officer K Mahesh had issued suo motu notices to the production house as well as music company of PM Narendra Modi on March 20. The notices were also issued to two newspapers for running the biopic’s ads.

"If any pre-certified political or surrogate advertisement is circulated, it is violation of Model Code of Conduct. Whosoever has done it is given an opportunity to explain their stand," said Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh.  

The filmmakers and other concerned parties have a deadline of March 30 to respond to the EC notices. The film is slated for release on April 5.  

K Mahesh also said that the Election Commission is looking into forming guidelines for political films being released during election time.

The EC’s notice to the team behind PM Narendra Modi comes after 47 civil servants also urged the polling body to delay the biopic’s release till May 23. However, it is unclear if the EC’s communication to the filmmakers is a response to this request.

The 47 civil servants had written a letter to the EC, arguing that the film releasing just a week before the polling commences on April 11 is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. “You [the chief election commissioner] will appreciate that such a film would create enormous electoral mileage for the Prime Minister and the party in power,” the letter stated.

Further, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also made a similar observation on Tuesday. She had said that the decision to release PM Narendra Modi just ahead of the General Elections in the country has a clear political motive.

"It is better if I do not say anything... If somebody wants to do a picture in his own favour, let him do it. But before election if anything is done, then the motive is very clear," she told the reporters at the state secretariat Nabanna.

Referring to the Modi biopic as well as The Accidental Prime Minister -- a film that explored former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tenure -- Mamata said one should try to win the electoral battles "politically".

"I believe all my political party friends (opposition parties) have already complained. The same complaints [were there] against all the political pictures which have come out, be it The Accidental Prime Minister or this biopic. I think we must fight the battle politically," she added.

Opposition parties, including the Congress, CPI-M and the CPI, had approached the Election Commission seeking postponement of the release of the film until the last phase of voting on May 19 is over so that it does not violate the Model Code of Conduct.