After the controversy over the release of PM Modi’s biopic, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday wrote to the Election Commission against the release of a movie which is purportedly based on Mamata Banerjee’s life.
In its letter of complaint, the Vice President of BJPs West Bengal unit, Joy Prakash Majumdar, said that the EC must review the biopic before its release as was done in the case of a biopic based on the life of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Bengali movie, named Baghini, is scheduled to release on May 3 in the middle of election season. While the director and producer of the film maintain that the film is only inspired by the life and struggles of Mamata, the timing of the film’s release is being questioned by many political rivals of TMC.
The Election Commission had stalled the release of Vivek Oberoi’s Modi biopic, claiming it could endanger the ‘level playing field’ and thereby threaten the “conduct of free and fair elections”. The BJP has now urged that the film ‘Baghini’ ought to be reviewed by the EC on the lines of what was done regarding PM Modi’s biopic.
Vivek Oberoi’s biopic on Prime Minister Modi was originally slated to release on April 11 which was also the date for voting in the first phase of Lok Sabha election 2019.
The release was eventually stalled after the matter reached Supreme Court and the apex court directed the EC to watch the film and submit a report in a sealed cover by the end of this week.
The BJP has also moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday against the scheduled release of Mamata Banerjee’s biopic, which the producers say has been “inspired” by the life and struggles of the West Bengal Chief Minister. The party has called it ‘Mamata’s hypocrisy’ since she had opposed PM Narendra Modi biopic.
Moreover, a delegation of CPI(M) leaders, led by party general secretary Sitram Yechuery, met Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Monday urging it to ban the trailer of the film ‘Baghini’. The Left party said that the movie could have an impact on free and fair elections. A CPI(M) leader said, “We are hopeful that after taking action against the Modi biopic, the EC will also take note of this film. It is pure propaganda.”
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has taken several steps in the recent past that have raised doubts about whether the decision is being influenced. The decisions are, more often than not, viewed as anti-Modi.
EC officials in Maharashtra had recently issued an order directing producers of television serials ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai’ and ‘Tujhse Hai Raabta’, aired on &TV and Zee TV channels, to remove content that deemed to benefit the “prospects of a political party” by praising government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. Before this decision by the EC, Congress had objected to these serials.
A citizen had printed “No gifts, please vote for PM Modi” on his wedding card and had got a notice from the Election Commission too raising concerns about the Election Commission encroaching on citizen’s fundamental rights. The Election Commission had also served a show cause notice to ABVP students for a book launch that was organised in JNU claiming poll code violation. The ABVP had planned to launch #ModiAgain by author Aabhas Maldahiyar and Saffron Swords by Manoshi Sinha Rawal on 15th April. The event has now been cancelled.
The same Election Commission had served a show cause notice to officials for banning the release of a book on the Rafale Deal for violation of the MCC. However, the ban was subsequently revoked and the book was released.
Keeping all this in view, a group of 81 former civil servants that compromise of defence personnel, judges, academicians and professionals, led by former Delhi Police Commissioner R S Gupta have written to the President of India, Ramnath Kovind expressing concern on how EC is being forced by anti-Modi lobby to conform to a ‘particular line of behaviour’.