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Poll panel seeks ministry response over complaint against PM’s photo on vaccination certificates

This week, the TMC had approached the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer alleging that the use of PM’s photo is a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and violates the Model Code of Conduct.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi |
Updated: March 5, 2021 7:47:00 am
covid vaccination certificate, pm modi photo on covid vaccine certificate, poll panel, election commission, indian expressPrime Minister Narendra Modi himself got his first COVID-19 vaccine shot on March 1 at AIIMS Delhi. (PTI Photo)

The Election Commission (EC) has asked the Health Ministry for the “factual position” regarding the Trinamool Congress’s complaint against the use of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo on Covid vaccination certificates.

“We want to ascertain the facts first. For instance, whether these certificates are indeed being distributed on the instructions of the Health Ministry. As a matter of routine, we always seek a response from all the involved parties in such complaints,” said an EC official who did not wish to be identified. According to sources, the Commission has also sought a report from its state Chief Electoral Officer on the matter.

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This week, the TMC had approached the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer alleging that the use of PM’s photo is a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and violates the Model Code of Conduct.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi happens to be the star campaigner of the BJP in this Assembly elections. As a politician, he is seeking support for his party during rallies. In this situation, using his photo in vaccination certificates is akin to influencing voters and violates the model code of conduct,” state minister Firhad Hakim had told reporters after meeting the election officials in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Reacting to these allegations, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh termed it as “baseless” and said the vaccination drive had started before the announcement of the election dates.

“If a government project starts before the declaration of an election, it may continue in the same form. At petrol pumps, hoardings are advertising several welfare projects of the Centre. These are put up on private land,” Ghosh said. He also said the EC would take a call on the issue.

On Wednesday, the EC had directed all petrol pumps in the poll-going states to remove the Prime Minister’s photographs.

With PTI inputs

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