The scourge of paid news has affected the upcoming Assembly polls as well. The Election Commission has identified seven candidates from major political parties in the 26 constituencies in Mumbai’s suburbs who have been issuing advertisements disguised as news.
The Shiv Sena, which has the unenviable distinction of fielding the most number of candidates with criminal records, also leads in the number of candidates from the suburbs who were found to be resorting to paid news. Most of the articles were found in regional newspapers and the Election Commission plans to add the cost to the campaign expenditure of the candidate.
Thirteen paid articles have been identified in the last 10 days by the special team of the commission in various regional newspapers. The BJP had two of its party members involved in paid news — Mohit Kamboj of Dindoshi constituency, who is one of the richest candidates, and Parag Alavani from Vile Parle.
From the Sena, the candidates are Vinay Jain from Malad West, Shashikant Patkar from Vile Parle and Tukaram Kate from Anushakti Nagar.
From the Congress, the sitting MLA of Dindoshi, Rajhans Singh was found to have paid for articles in three Marathi newspapers.
The MNS’ Raees Lashkariya from Andheri was found to have paid for two articles.
Shekhar Channe, collector of Mumbai suburban district, said, “Our team has been monitoring newspapers and we have found 13 paid news articles. Based on the size of the article printed in the newspaper, and as per the standard advertising charges, we will include the sum in the candidate’s campaign expenditure.”