By Godson Ikiebey-
A Bollywood biopic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been banned from release during the country’s elections, this is as the opposition claim it would serve as political propaganda.
On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the Election Commission of India announced that it was halting the release of the biopic until after the elections, which will kick off on April 11, 2019 and last about six weeks.
This is coming days after the film’s producers announced its release would be postponed, after it failed to get a censor’s certificate in time.
The film in which Modi is played by Indian actor Vivek Oberoi, depicts various moments throughout the future prime minister’s life, including selling tea on the railways as a child, a two-year spiritual stint in the Himalayas as a teen and leading the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide victory at the polls in 2014.
In March, 2019, the main opposition Congress Party slammed the release of the movie, labeling it propaganda and suggesting its release would contravene the country’s election laws. In a petition to the commission, Congress demanded the film’s release be delayed until after the vote.
In India, any material that would serve as a political advertisement is banned during the weeks leading up to an election, unless it is approved by the Election Commission.
In its decision, the commission said any biopic material “subserving the purposes of any political entity” and that had “the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed” during the election period.
Modi’s BJP has distanced itself from the film, saying “independent artists, influenced by the lifestyle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, created the film but the BJP is in no way involved in it. There is no content related to the election which can be banned under the model code of conduct”.