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After TMC complaint, EC says remove PM’s photo from Covid jab certificate

Sources said the EC wrote to the Health Ministry on Friday reiterating its standing instructions against promoting the party in power through government means when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi |
Updated: March 6, 2021 12:30:16 pm
EC on PM photo, Vaccine certificate PM Photo, covid vaccine certificate, pm modi photo on covid 19 certificate, tmc complaint, ec, west bengal elections, indian expressPrime Minister Narendra Modi receives the first dose of the Covid vaccine. (File)

The Election Commission (EC) has asked the Union government to stop using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on Covid-19 vaccination certificates in states headed to Assembly elections. The EC’s order came on a complaint by the Trinamool Congress this week.

Sources said the EC wrote to the Health Ministry on Friday reiterating its standing instructions gainst promoting the party in power through government means when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force.

Explained

Model Code of Conduct

The EC has stopped the use of PM’s pictures in posters and websites of government welfare schemes during earlier elections as well. In 2017, when Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and UP were headed to polls, it had ordered the removal of Modi's picture from the PMAY site.

The Ministry was instructed to implement the instructions with regard to the vaccination certificates being distributed in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.

The EC’s decision came after the Health Ministry, in its reply to the panel, said the vaccination drive was an ongoing government initiative that had started much before the MCC came into force a week ago.

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To comply with the EC’s direction, the Health Ministry will now have to update its software to introduce a filter that would mask the PM’s picture on the certificate, sources said.

The EC has in the past forbidden the use of the PM’s picture on posters and official websites of government schemes during elections. During the 2017 elections in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, the Commission had asked the Cabinet Secretary to remove images of Modi and the then Urban Development Minister from the website of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

The TMC had approached the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer to complain that the use of PM’s photo was a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and violated the MCC.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi happens to be the star campaigner of the BJP in these Assembly elections. 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,” West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim had told reporters after meeting election officials in Kolkata on Wednesday.

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