The Election Commission of India on Wednesday directed all petrol pump dealers and other agencies to remove hoardings advertising the Centre’s schemes that has Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photographs, from the premises of the facilities within 72 hours, reported PTI, citing officials.
An official from the West Bengal Chief Electoral Office said that the use of the prime minister’s photograph in hoardings violates the Model Code of Conduct. The Election Commission of India had announced the schedule for elections in four states, including West Bengal, and one Union Territory on February 26, the date when the Model Code of Conduct came into force in these places.
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee welcomed the poll panel’s decision, calling it a “big win”. “Welcome this decision by the Election Commission of India to ensure fair elections in the state,” he tweeted. “The Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi ji must find something better to do than tricking voters with this blatant use of government machinery.”
Earlier in the day, a Trinamool Congress delegation met Election Commission officials and alleged that the use of Modi’s photographs in hoardings violated the poll code.
On Tuesday, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien had complained to the poll panel about the prime minister’s name appearing on digital certificates being given to coronavirus vaccine beneficiaries. He had also alleged that it was in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The MP accused Modi of “blatantly misusing official machinery” ahead of the Assembly polls, 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. “He is blatantly appropriating the dues of a vast army of selfless doctors, nurses and health service workers.”
Counting of votes for all the poll-bound states – Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala – along with the Union Territory of Puducherry will take place on May 2. Voting will take place in several phases between March 27 to April 29.