Government buses can't display election ads: EC

New Delhi: As Maharashtra and Haryana go for Assembly polls next month, the Election Commission today ruled
out allowing display of election advertisements on government transport buses, saying the party in power can use it to its advantage and disturb the level playing field.

In a communication to Chief Electoral Officers of all states, the EC referred to the issue of allowing election- related advertisements on state road transportation and municipal corporation buses.

"Level playing field envisaged under the Model Code of Conduct is a very vital aspect for ensuring free and fair elections.

A party should not be in a position to take undue advantage on account of it being in power in the government....the buses of the SRTC are virtually under the control of the state government concerned....," the EC said.

It said advertisement spaces on the buses of such corporations could be cornered by the ruling party. "In these cases, it will not be practically possible to ensure equitable sharing of space for the purpose of advertisements, both in terms of the quantity as well as for particular bus routes -- through crowded area and those going through less crowded places," the poll watchdog said.

Using powers vested to it under Article 324, the EC has directed that State Road Transport Corporation buses and buses owned by Municipal Corporations and other government-owned vehicles "shall not be used" for display of political advertisements during the period when the model code is in force.

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