Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien on Tuesday complained to the Election Commission of India about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo and name appearing on digital certificates being given to coronavirus vaccine beneficiaries, NDTV reported. He said that this was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
The MP accused Modi of “blatantly misusing official machinery” ahead of the Assembly polls in West Bengal, and taking away credit from healthcare workers.
“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,” O’ Brien wrote in his letter, according to NDTV. “He is blatantly appropriating the dues of a vast army of selfless doctors, nurses and health service workers.”
The Trinamool Congress MP said the prime minister was “debarred from publicising his name” through the Co-WIN vaccination platform, after the announcement of the election schedule as the Model of Code of Conduct came into effect. “This breach of the Model Code of Conduct is glaring and must be stopped with immediate effect,” O’Brien added, according to NDTV.
O’Brien’s party colleague Santanu Sen said Modi’s picture on vaccination certificates signalled “blatant attempts to break the federal structure”, The Print reported. “This is unthinkable for us, to see the PM’s photo on the vaccination certificates,” he told the website. “The Modi government did something similar in case of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The state bears 40% share of the scheme. But the health card that reached people bore his photo.”
Unidentified officials told NDTV that the prime minister’s photo had been appearing on the certificates since the beginning of the inoculation drive.
India’s second phase of vaccination, covering people above the age of 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities, began on Monday. Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other leaders were administered the vaccine on the same day.