EC asks Health Ministry to remove PM’s image from vaccination certificate

The Election Commission has urged the Union government to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name and picture on Covid-19 vaccination certificates in poll-bound states. The EC’s order came shortly on a complaint by the Trinamool Congress this week. On Friday, the EC wrote to the Health Ministry reemphasizing its guidelines against publicizing the party in power through the government means when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in effect.

The TMC had approached West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer on Tuesday, complaining that PM’s image was a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and it violated the MCC.

Clause seven of the model code 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”.

The EC referred to guidelines that clearly say that the names and images of the CM or PM should not be displayed on hoardings, wall paintings, or any other publicity material of government to secure an equal playing field for all political parties for fair and free elections.

“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’s minister Firhad Hakim had told reporters after meeting election officials in Kolkata on Wednesday.

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