The Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra, in his interim report sent to the Chief Election Commission, gave a clean chit to the process in which the company of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) official was tendered in last year’s assembly elections.
After this incident came to light, there was a lot of political turmoil. The Congress demanded a detailed inquiry into the matter. Later, after the controversy escalated, the Chief Election Commission sought a report from the Election Commissioner of Maharashtra. A copy of the interim report submitted by the Maharashtra Election Commission is also with ‘India Today’. The report has ruled out any kind of relationship between the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Maharashtra and Devang Dave. It has also been denied that any work was given to the socialcentral media solution company by the CEO Office or DGIPR (Director General of Information and Public Relations, Maharashtra).
According to sources in the CEO’s office, the report said that M / s Signpost India Pvt. Ltd. was selected by DGIPR for the work. This institution selects agencies for all advertisements of government departments. Tender is taken out with full rules for advertisement. It is agreed to from the CEO’s office. To whom the tender for the sweep campaign (SVEEP campaign) should be awarded, the DGIPR was approached by the CEO’s office. In this campaign, advertisements for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were given on social media.
Later, activist Saket Gokhale of Mumbai raised this issue. The Congress raised this issue vigorously on the basis of Gokhale’s talk. Gokhale had alleged in the tweet that the firm chosen by the Election Commission to operate a social media account in the 2019 Maharashtra assembly elections, was the same firm that the BJP had also hired. Gokhale wrote in the tweet that this firm belongs to BJP Yuva Morcha leader Devang Dave,
The Congress alleged that the issue is not why the work was given to the BJP leader, but rather it is a matter of concern that the figures of the voters were given to a company which is related to the BJP leader. The Maharashtra CEO has denied these allegations. The report said that the tasks given to Signpost India were only related to the sweep campaign. In this, awareness was to be spread among the people for votes and the agency did not have access to any data which the Election Commission handles.
‘India Today’ contacted Devang Dave on this issue. Dave dismissed all the allegations outright and said that ‘a company called Social Central was providing digital service to Signpost India’. The CEO’s report also said that the contract had nothing to do with Devang Dave or Social Central as the contract was given to Signpost India. ‘India Today’ also wanted to talk to one of the directors of Signpost India, Shripad Ashtekar, but he did not comment.