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PM Modi's photo from Covid vaccine certificates must be removed: Election Commission to Centre

A hoarding of PM Narendra Modi installs at City Street, in Kolkata on Friday. (ANI Photo)Premium
A hoarding of PM Narendra Modi installs at City Street, in Kolkata on Friday. (ANI Photo)

  • The step was taken in order to maintain the sanctity of the Model Code of Conduct weeks before assembly elections in the poll-bound states where the MCC is already in place
  • Four states and one union territory will vote for their next government in the next few weeks as state polls begin on 27 March

The Election Commission (EC) has asked the Central Government to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo from Covid-19 vaccine certificates of four states and one union territory headed for Assembly elections this year.

The step was taken in order to maintain the sanctity of the Model Code of Conduct weeks before assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, where MCC is already in place, according to a report.

Earlier this week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) had said that the picture of PM Modi on coronavirus vaccination certificates violates the model code.

In a letter to the poll panel, TMC MP Derek O'Brien had stated that PM Modi's photo on vaccination certificates amounted to "blatantly misusing official machinery" in the state ahead of the assembly elections.

"By placing his photograph, name and message on the provisional certificates issued by the Ministry of Health and Family welfare, he is not only exploiting his post and powers but also stealing commendable credit from the producers of Covid vaccines," the TMC MP wrote.

"He is blatantly appropriating the dues of a vast army of selfless doctors, nurses and health service workers," he said.

Follow poll code provisions in letter and spirit

Following the complaint, the EC has asked the health ministry to follow the provisions of the poll code in letter and spirit.

In a letter to the health ministry, the poll panel is learnt to have referred to certain provisions of the model code, which bar the use of advertisement at the cost of the public exchequer.

As per a PTI report, the EC has not referred to any individual or personalities but has asked the health ministry to follow the provisions of the model code in letter and spirit.

The Centre has been asked to adopt a system so that the Prime Minister's photo does not appear on Covid-19 vaccine certificates in poll-bound states.

However, the vaccine jab certificates can carry PM Modi's photos in other states.

Polling will begin on 27 March in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. West Bengal will vote in eight phases, Assam will vote in three phases, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will vote in a single round, and Puducherry will also vote on the same day.

The model code of conduct had come into force in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on 26 February, the day the ECI had announced the election dates in these four states and one UT.

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