In an apparent violation of the Model Code of Conduct, passengers on board the Kathgodam Shatabdi Express were on Friday served tea in paper cups that carried the BJP’s campaign slogan “Main Bhi chowkidar”. The cups were sponsored by an NGO.
This comes days after the Election Commission sought an explanation from Railways on paper tickets bearing the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the overleaf in a government advertisement.
Along with the “chowkidar” slogan, 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.
While Mittal could not be reached for comment, Himanshu Mishra of Utthan Seva Sansthan said the two NGOs got together to send pilgrims to the Kumbh from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. “We had distributed among the pilgrims lunch boxes with Modiji’s picture. But as far as cups in trains are concerned, Utthan was not associated with it,” he told The Indian Express.
Faced with a backlash on the social media, the Railways said it had withdrawn the cups and penalised the contractor.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. 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 showcause notice has also been served to the service provider for this misconduct,” an IRCTC spokesperson said.
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The organisation also put out a statement on social media.