The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ran advertisements worth Rs 51 lakh in violation of the mandatory 48-hour silence period, before the first phase of polling of Lok Sabha elections.

According to the weekly ads report published by Facebook, the amount was spent on 28 advertisements that started running on 9 April, the day the silence period commenced and ran till 11 April, the day of the polls. All the ads were shown in at least one or more states that voted in the first phase.

A total of 91 Lok Sabha constituencies went to polls in the first phase on 11 April. The promotions were primarily aimed at poll bound states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharasthra, Odisha and Bihar.
Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 bars the display or propagation of “any election matter” in any polling area for 48 hours till the conclusion of the poll.

It also ran its recent rap video aimed at first time voters as well as a generic promotional video urging people to vote for the BJP.

At the end of all each advertisement video, is a message saying “Kamal ka button dabaye, BhaJaPa ko jitaye (Press the button with the lotus symbol, make the BJP victorious).” This message is also accompanied by an image of the EVM button with the BJP’s lotus symbol on it.

On 20 March, social media platforms, including Facebook, had voluntarily agreed to take down political advertisements during the mandated 48-hour “silence period” before each of the seven phases of polling.

Seven social media giants – Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, Twitter, Sharechat, TikTok and BigoTV – had signed an eight-point “Code Of Ethics for the General Elections 2019” and presented it to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

Congress also found to be Violating Silence Period

The Congress party, which has emerged as the highest spending page on Facebook for the week between 31 March and 6 April, was the second highest spender behind the BJP, the following week.

However, the Congress too, which spent Rs 18 lakh on 602 advertisements, were also found to have violated the silence period. A number of its advertisements promoting its manifesto ran on 9 and 10 April. Unlike BJP’s advertisements, they turned inactive on the 10th, a day before polls.


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