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If the PM’s Photo Could be Used in a Govt ad, Then why not a CM’s?

A Supreme Court order prohibits state governments from carrying pictures of CMs on government ads.

Updated
India
2 min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the launch of the DD Kisan Channel at a ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

Today’s morning newspaper readers in the country were greeted with ads from two political leaders. One was a letter written by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the NDA’s one year in office made front page accompanied with his photograph. The second, a two full front page ad outlining the achievements of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s four year rule but did not carry her photograph.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa during her swearing-in ceremony at Madras University. (Photo: PTI) 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa during her swearing-in ceremony at Madras University. (Photo: PTI) 

This discrimination is due to the recent Supreme Court order prohibiting state governments from carrying pictures of Chief Ministers on government ads. In its ruling on May 13, partially accepting recommendations of an SC-appointed committee, the court stated that all government ads, whether central or state, can carry only pictures of three people — the Prime Minister, President, and Chief Justice of India.

The bench declared that photographs have the potential of developing a personality cult, and was the anti-thesis of democracy, thus allowing pictures of only those holding the three key offices. Interestingly, the SC bench deviated from the recommendation of the three-member committee which originally said no pictures should accompany government ads, and if necessary, the photographs of the Prime Minister, President, state Governor or Chief Minister could be used.

— SC order, a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi

A newspaper from Tuesday celebrating the Centre’s one year anniversary. (Photo: The News Minute)
A newspaper from Tuesday celebrating the Centre’s one year anniversary. (Photo: The News Minute)

The decision has no doubt created ripples across India, with legal experts and political leaders alike commenting on the SC verdict. Political parties contend that the SC judgement goes against the very ideals of the Constitution, contradicting the federal structure based on equality between the centre and the state.

DMK leader and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi criticised the SC verdict calling it “snatching away the rights of states”. He says that in a federal set-up, both PMs and CMs have “equal status”.

“The state CM should not be secondary to the PM,” said AIADMK spokesperson, Rabi Bernard who felt that considering the number of illiterate people in India, images are the only way people will relate to their leader, “The first interaction of the people of the state is with the CM”, he said.  Last week, the TN government filed a petition in the SC asking for a review in its May 13 judgement.

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