Patna: A complaint has been filed before the Election Commission of India, against news service Asian News International (ANI) for its alleged biased coverage of election rallies in Bihar.
Saket Gokhale, the complainant, drew attention to the rules and guidelines stipulated by the Commission for media reporting of elections.
The complaint said that on 23/10/2020, Friday, the news agency provided live coverage of PM Narendra Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's election rallies in Bihar held at Sasaram and Gaya. However, the agency did not cover the rallies of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav held at Nawada and Bhagalpur on the same day.
While ANI live-tweeted excerpts from PM Modi's and Nitish Kumar's speeches at the two rallies along with videos at least 17 times, only six excerpts of Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav's speeches were tweeted by the agency.
Today, @ANI provided live feed of Modi's rallies. However, no live coverage of rallies conducted by Rahul Gandhi & Tejashwi Yadav.— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) October 23, 2020
ANI also live-tweeted 17 tweets on Modi's speech with only 6 tweets on Opposition.
I've written to the ECI regarding this violation of guidelines. pic.twitter.com/Zft1705tPq
The fact that ANI had video footage of the rallies of PM Modi and Nitish Kumar as well as those of Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav is evident from their Twitter timeline, the complaint said.
The complainant referred to clause 3.2 of guidelines for Election Broadcasts, section (ii) which states:
"Unless they publicly endorse or support a particular party or candidate, news broadcasters have a duty to be balanced and impartial, especially in their election reporting."
"Disproportionate coverage of a political party/alliance over another is a clear sign of a bias. Whether the bias is due to editorial political leanings, financial gratification, or political pressure is a question for the ECI to ask and for ANI to answer," Saket Gokhale's complaint said.
The Bihar legislative assembly elections will begin on 28th October and will end on 7th November. The votes will be counted on 10th November.