India stops release of biopic on PM Modi ahead of polls

In this Monday, April 8, 2019, photo, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP's manifesto for the upcoming general elections in New Delhi, India. Modi came to power in 2014 promising big-ticket economic reforms. But with unemployment rising and signature policies getting panned, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has adopted a nationalist pitch ahead of a general election that begins this week.(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI — Indian election authorities have stopped the release of a Bollywood biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi with national elections scheduled to begin on Thursday.

The Election Commission accepted arguments from the Congress party and other opposition parties that the release of the film, "PM Narendra Modi," would give an unfair advantage to Modi's Hindu nationalist party as it seeks re-election.

Film producer Sandip Ssingh had scheduled the release of the movie in Indian theaters for Thursday.

The commission ruled Wednesday that any biopic material that has the potential to create an uneven playing field during the multi-phase election should not be displayed in electronic media.

Voting will conclude May 19, and vote counting will begin May 23.

The commission also is examining opposition complaints that the launch of a television channel named after the prime minister violated a law barring political parties from starting such channels after the announcement of the election schedule.

The Congress party and the Aam Admi Party said the channel, funded by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, started broadcasting Modi's election campaign and a compilation of speeches three weeks after the voting schedule was announced by the commission on March 10.

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