EC tells Centre to remove Narendra Modi's picture from COVID-19 vaccine certificates in poll-bound states, say reports
The EC's action came on a complaint by the Trinamool Congress that the prime minister's image on vaccination certificates violates the Model Code of Conduct
The Election Commission has asked the Union Health Ministry to stop using Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture on the COVID-19 vaccination certificates in the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, reports said.
The EC reportedly made the remarks in a letter to the ministry, directing it to follow the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) protocol "in letter and spirit".
On Saturday, reports said that the poll body instructed the ministry to adhere to the MCC rule that bars the use of advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer.
Clause seven of the MCC states that "issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer... regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided".
PTI, however, quoted sources as saying that the Election Commission has not referred to any individual or personalities in the letter.
The sources informed the news agency said that the health ministry may have to use filters so that the picture of the prime minister is not printed on certificates given to people in the five states.
However, it may take time to put in place the filters in the system, they added.
The EC's action came on a complaint by the Trinamool Congress that Modi's picture on vaccination certificates violates the MCC.
The TMC had on Tuesday approached the poll panel about Modi's picture on vaccination certificates generated through the Co-Win platform, and alleged "blatant misuse of official machinery by the prime minister" in its complaint.
TMC, the ruling party in West Bengal, also "accused the prime minister of stealing credit from doctors, nurses and healthcare workers and appropriating their dues", NDTV reported.
"By placing his photograph, name and message on the provisional certificates issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, he is not only exploiting his post and powers but also stealing commendable credit from the producers of COVID vaccines. He is blatantly appropriating the dues of a vast army of selfless doctors, nurses and health service workers," the report quoted Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien's letter to the EC.
West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim also said, "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. We have sought the EC's intervention to remove his photo in hoardings promoting central schemes at petrol pumps."
Taking cognisance of the complaint, the EC had asked for a report from the West Bengal electoral officer and also sought a response from the health ministry on "factual position" on the use of Modi's photo.
The vaccination certificates can carry Modi's photos in other states.
The model code had come into force in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on 26 February, the day the EC announced polls in these five states.
With inputs from PTI
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