Delhi BJP MLA O P Sharma was Wednesday issued a show cause notice by the Election Commission for using photos of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media, in first case of violation of poll norms in the national capital. The Election Commission also asked him to take down the post and reply to the show cause notice by Thursday.
This prompted the Sharma to dub the poll body "biased against nationalist leaders". Sharma told PTI that he has deleted the post mentioned by the EC, but said he did not understand why was the poll body was so "allergic" to a person cheering the heroic act of its soldiers and rejoicing over an act of national honour.
"The Election Commission is biased against nationalist leaders like me," he said. The Election Commission Sunday announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls. The model code of conduct is in place across the country since the announcement of poll dates. Polling in Delhi will be held on May 12. The posters, shared on social media by the BJP MLA on March 1, featured Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, the IAF officer, and Sharma, who represents the Vishwas Nagar seat in the Delhi Assembly.
"Pakistan has bowed down. Our brave soldier has returned. It's a big diplomatic victory that Modiji has brought Abhinandan back in very little time," the message in the photos read. Shahdara District Magistrate K M Mahesh told PTI, "We issued a show cause notice to Sharma for posting posters featuring Abhinandan Varthaman on Facebook."
"He (Sharma) has been asked to furnish a reply by 11 am Thursday. It's a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and appropriate action will be taken," Mahesh, who is also the district election officer, said. The first notice was issued on Tuesday. Another notice was issued on Wednesday reiterating the directive to take down the post and clarifying the earlier notice had asked to delete the tweet, but instead it should have been deletion of the Facebook post.
Sharma said he has removed the post because "he did not want to stretch the matter". "I do not understand allergy of EC to such a post. Have they issued notices to anyone for election related hoardings and posters that have been removed after announcement of Lok Sabha polls? I was not seeking votes for my party nor am I candidate for the elections," Sharma said.
He alleged the poll body did not act on the complaints lodged by the BJP against AAP for making phone calls to "misguide voters" and the Delhi government allegedly collecting details of parents of schoolchildren. On March 9, the Election Commission asked political parties to "desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel" against the backdrop of a picture showing a hoarding with images of Wing Commander Varthaman as well as leaders of a party.
The EC referred to its December 2013 letter in which it had "called upon all political parties to advise their candidates and leaders to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel or photographs functions involving defence personnel in advertisements". An Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison, piloted by Varthaman, had shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft on February 27. However, his plane was also shot down and he was arrested in Pakistan.
The fighter pilot overnight became a sensation and a mascot of heroism. Latching on to his popularity, leaders of several political parties sought to use his photos for political mileage. The pilot returned home after his nearly three-day captivity in Pakistan on March 1.