The Election Commission Saturday sent notices to the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Civil Aviation over using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photographs on railway tickets and Air India boarding passes even after the Model Code of Conduct came into effect on March 10. The poll body asked both the Ministries to file their response by today.
The Commission had on March 27 sought an explanation from Railways on paper tickets bearing the picture of PM Modi on the overleaf in a government advertisement. On March 25, Air India decided to “roll back” its boarding passes carrying photographs of Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani after they were heavily criticised.
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On Friday, in an apparent violation of the Model Code of Conduct, passengers on board the Kathgodam Shatabdi Express were served tea in paper cups that carried the BJP’s campaign slogan “Main Bhi chowkidar”. The cups were sponsored by an NGO. The cups also carried messages on “saving the country from terrorism” and “respect for the soldiers”. It carried the name of one Rajeev Mittal as president of NGO Sankalp Seva Foundation and the logo of another NGO Utthan Seva Sansthan.
The Railways faced a backlash on social media for this after which it withdrew the cups and penalised the contractor. It has been claimed by passengers that tea was served in these cups twice. “Reports that tea has been served in cups labelled as “main bhi chowkidar” have been investigated. This was without any prior approval of IRCTC. An explanation has been sought from supervisor/pantry in-charge over dereliction of duty. A fine of Rs 1 lakh fine has been imposed on the service provider. A show cause notice has also been served to the service provider for this misconduct,” an IRCTC spokesperson said.
The poll watchdog, immediately after the announcement of Lok Sabha dates on March 10, had ordered the Cabinet Secretary, state Chief Secretaries and all Chief Electoral Officers to remove references to any minister, politician or political party from official websites of central and state governments. Print and electronic advertisements highlighting achievements of the incumbent government at the cost of public money is also prohibited until the end of elections.