New Delhi: As the state of West Bengal gears up for upcoming assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress notifies the Election Commission (EC) of negligence of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as Union government still uses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on Covid-19 vaccination certificates. Taking needed action, EC wrote to the Health Ministry on Friday reiterating its standing instructions against promoting the party in power through government means when the MCC was in force.
The TMC had reportedly approached the state Chief Electoral Officer to complain about the use of PM’s photo alleging it to be a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and violation of 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 media after meeting election officials in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Earlier also the EC has asked to stop the use of PM’s photo in posters and websites of government welfare schemes during elections. 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 Covid 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.
However, in compliance with 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.