The Election Commission of India (ECI) has on Friday asked the Union Health Ministry to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph from COVID-19 vaccination certificates distributed in poll-bound states in order to maintain the sanctity of the Model Code of Conduct, reported ThePrint.
The ECI had on Thursday sought a report from the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on the Trinamool Congress' complaint that the picture of PM Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 vaccination certificate violates the Model Code of Conduct.
According to PTI, the West Bengal CEO had been directed to file a report to verify the veracity of the TMC's complaint. Based on the CEO's report, the poll panel was going to decide the future course of action, a functionary had explained.
The ruling TMC in West Bengal had on Tuesday approached the poll panel about the PM's photo on vaccination certificates generated through the Co-WIN platform being a violation of the Model Code of Conduct in West Bengal and other poll-bound states, including Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry. The TMC had termed the photo a "blatant misuse of official machinery" by the PM.
"Prime Minister Narendra 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,” West Bengal Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim had said.
TMC MP Derek O’Brien had also written a letter to the Election Commission and said PM Modi "is not only exploiting his post and powers but also stealing commendable credit from the producers of COVID-19 vaccines".
However, the BJP termed the allegations as "baseless". "If a government project starts before the declaration of an election, it may continue in the same form. At petrol pumps, hoardings are advertising several welfare projects of the Centre. These are put up on private land,” said BJP West Bengal President Dilip Ghosh.