Pune/Mumbai, Mar 17 (PTI) BJP seems to have taken a dim view of one of its Maharashtra functionary’s demand for ban on Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ for three days during civic body polls, with Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar holding that imposing curbs on newspapers is not BJP’s principle.

Seeking to play down the matter, the Mumbai unit BJP president Ashish Shelar today denied that the central and state leaders differ on the issue.

Earlier in the day, Naidu told reporters in Pune that there would be no ban on any newspaper.

“Imposing ban on newspaper is not BJP’s principle.

Imposing emergency was Congress’ work, so be assured that there would not be any ban on newspaper,” the senior BJP leader said.

He was responding to a query on the state BJP functionary Shweta Shalini writing to the State Election Commission demanding a ban on the publication of the Sena organ on the days of the civic and local body polls.

“Let them write whatever they want to write. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity is increasing and it is not only increasing in India, but across the globe. He is receiving praise from all over the world, so let them write whatever they want to write,” the Information and Broadcasting Minister said.

In her letter to the SEC, Shalini had said, “There is a ban on publishing content or undertaking publicity campaign (of parties and candidates) two days before polling date.

However, ‘Saamana’ is flouting this norm. Considering the poll dates, there should be ban on publication of ‘Saamana’ on February 16, 20 and 21.”

Justifying her demand, she said ‘Saamana’ would continue to “impress” voters even after campaigning for civic polls comes to end through its views in print.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had equated the demand to the Emergency.

While the elections to 10 municipal corporations will be held on February 21, the polls for 15 out of 25 Zilla Parishads and 165 Panchayat Samitis were held yesterday in the first phase.

Addressing a presser here, Ananth Kumar said, “As Naidu has said it.. I am of the same opinion (on the ‘Saamana’ ban issue).”

When contacted, Shelar said, “The BJP is not against any newspaper. The demand raised by Shweta Shalini is against the publishing of paid news a day before the polling and on the voting day and we made the demand with the SEC in this context.”

As per my information, the newspaper concerned has received a notice from the Election Commission, he said.

Shelar said there was no difference of opinion between the state and the central leaders on the issue. “We are on the same page when it comes to newspaper and its fraternity,” he added.

The Sena, known as the all-weather ally of the BJP, has fallen out with its partner and is contesting the civic polls on its own without alliance.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.