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EC orders removal of PM’s images from vaccine certificates: Officials

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  • The person said it was imperative that the photographs are removed from certificates distributed in the poll bound states, adding that the system can continue in other states.

By Deeksha Bhardwaj

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 02:45 AM IST

The Election Commission has asked the Union health ministry to ensure that the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is removed from the Covid-19 vaccination certificates in the four states and one Union territory headed for polls, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Saying that the photos violate the model code of conduct, the EC told the health ministry that “the point of the model code of conduct is to ensure a level playing field, this goes against that as it can count as undue publicity,” one of the people said. The development came days after the EC sought a response from the ministry on a complaint of Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien who said that through the certificates, the PM was “exploiting his post and powers”.

The health ministry in its response said that the vaccination systems were designed before the elections were announced, the person cited above said. “The ministry explained that the certificates were being issued as per the ongoing scheme. The model code of conduct kicked into force later. And certificate is system generated,” the person said citing the response of the ministry.

The EC announced the poll schedule for West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry on February 26.

The person said it was imperative that the photographs are removed from certificates distributed in the poll bound states, adding that the system can continue in other states.

India kicked off the second phase of its vaccination drive on March 1 by expanding the vaccine coverage to people over 60 years of age and those over 45 with significant comorbidities.

O’Brien’s complaint, accessed by HT, stated that the use of the Prime Minister’s image on the certificates is a clear violation of part VII (Party in Power) of the Model Code of Conduct. “The party in power whether at the Centre or in the State or States concerned, shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign and in particular…(4) Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media,” O’Brien said in the complaint.


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