Why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo won’t appear on COVID-19 vaccine certificates in five states

Since the Model Code of Conduct has been implemented in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa, the health ministry has applied necessary filters on the CoWIN platform to exclude the prime minister's photo from the vaccine document

FP Staff January 10, 2022 09:53:10 IST
Why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo won’t appear on COVID-19 vaccine certificates in five states

File image of a beneficiary showing his COVID-19 vaccine certificate. PTI

If you are from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa and have received your COVID-19 dose, your vaccine certificate won’t have Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph on it.

Wondering why that is the case? We have the answer for you.

No Modi photo on certificate

It was announced on Sunday that COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued in the five poll-bound states will not have Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo since the Model Code of Conduct has come into force there.

For those who don't know, the Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission with the intention of regulating political parties and candidates prior to the elections. This is done in order to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.

A source, according to a PTI report, said that the health ministry has applied necessary filters on the CoWIN platform to exclude Modi's photo from the vaccine certificate.

The filters came into effect on Saturday night soon after the poll schedule was announced. Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be held between 10 February and 7 March in seven phases with the counting of votes on 10 March, the Election Commission had announced on Saturday.

It has been reported that similar measures were taken during the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry last year.

Row over PM’s photo on vaccine certificate

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture on COVID-19 vaccination certificates has been widely criticised by Opposition leaders.

In March 2021, the Trinamool Congress had slammed the Centre’s move to place the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 vaccination certificate and said that “PM stands for Publicity Master”.

It also 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 during last year's elections in the eastern state.

It was after their complaint that the health ministry updates its software to introduce a filter that would mask the PM’s picture on the certificate.

In December, the Kerala High Court, hearing a petition filed by a Right to Information (RTI) activist against the prime minister's photo in the COVID vaccine certificate, had questioned the objection, asking, "Modi is our prime minister. You may have political differences. But, I can't understand what is the problem with prime minister's photo on the certificate?"

The Kerala HC dismissed the petition, saying: "Why are of ashamed of our PM? 100 crore people do not have any issue with this, why do you? You are wasting judicial time."

The petitioner, Peter M, had stated in a BBC report, “By putting his picture on my certificate, he's intruding into the private space of citizens. It's unconstitutional and I'm requesting the honourable prime minister to stop this wrong, shameful act immediately.”

What the government had to say

On 10 August 2021, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar had in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha explained why Modi's photograph was printed on the COVID-19 document. His reply had said: "The photograph along with the message of the prime minister in the vaccination certificates reinforces the message for creating awareness about the importance of following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, in the larger public interest."

Further, she had said it was the moral and ethical responsibility of the government to ensure that such critical messages are disseminated to people in the most effective manner.

With inputs from agencies

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