Indian election authorities stop release of Modi's fawning Bollywood biopic as polls open

Bollywood film "PM Narendra Modi" was pulled from cinemas on the eve of the election
Bollywood film "PM Narendra Modi" was pulled from cinemas on the eve of the election Credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Election Commission has prohibited the release of a Bollywood biopic on Narendra Modi, the prime minister, a day before its scheduled release, claiming it would tip the balance of the general elections in his favour.  

The Commission, which oversees India’s parliamentary and provincial elections, on Wednesday ruled that releasing PM Narendra Modi would give an “unfair advantage” to Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is seeking re-election for a second five-year term.

The order came in response to objections by the opposition Congress Party and stated that all “biopic material with the potential to create an uneven playing field during elections” should not be aired until the end of voting.

The Commission was also considering imposing a ban on the 10-day old, 24-hour NaMo news channel named after the prime minister, stating that it violated the code of conduct for political parties at election time.

The first of seven rounds of voting in 91 of 543 parliamentary constituencies across the country will take place on Thursday amidst tight security.

Billboards in Mumbai have been put up for the web series "Modi: Journey of a Common Man" Credit: REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

The remaining six rounds of polling will conclude on 19 May and election results will be announced four days later, on 23 May.

Meanwhile, a series of opinion polls predict that Mr Modi’s BJP-led alliance will return to power by winning 272 seats, one more than the halfway mark needed to form the government.

This, however, indicates a sharp drop from the commanding majority of 336 seats that Modi’s National Democratic Alliance won in the 2014 elections when he promised to turn India into an economic powerhouse and create a million jobs every month.

In the meantime, voters in Hailakandi district in India’s north-eastern Assam state are being offered generous concessions on a range of products such as jewellery, food and medicines - provided they vote.

To obtain the 10-15 per cent concession at all jewellery shops, restaurants and pharmacies in the district, all they will have to do is to show the indelible ink mark on their index finger that proves they have cast their ballot.