Modi's Photo on COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates to Be Removed in Poll-bound States

Various political parties, particularly TMC, have said that Modi's picture on vaccine certificates is in violation of the poll code at a time when elections are due in five states.

New Delhi: The COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued in the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry will no longer carry the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, keeping in line with the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and in response to pressure built by various political parties, the NDTV reports.

Taking congnisance of complaints lodged by various parties, the Election Commission of India (ECI), on March 6, instructed the government to drop Modi’s photograph from certificates in the states where elections are due.

In a letter dated March 9, the Union health ministry told the ECI that it will comply with the instructions, adding that necessary filters are being added to ensure that Modi’s picture does not appear on the certificates.

“Thereafter, necessary filters in Co-WIN have been applied for the vaccination centres situated in the four states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Union Territory of Puducherry, as suggested by the Commission,” the compliance letter issued by health secretary Rajesh Bhushan stated.

Also read: Modi’s Photo on Vaccine Certificates: EC Seeks Health Ministry’s Response

Earlier, TMC said Modi, as the prime minister, was using his position and power to steal the commendable credit of doctors, nurses, and other paramedical staff selflessly serving during the COVID-19 crisis, and it was also against the poll code violation. The party also approached the ECI to lodge their complaint.

Some of the TMC leaders have unleashed sharp criticism against Modi for “misusing” the office of prime minister. “PM stands for Prime Minister, but here it stands for ‘publicity master’. It is not just after the model code of conduct(MCC) has come into force that we are talking about this. We also raised the same issue when the Ayushman Bharat scheme was launched in 2018,” TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen had said.

Provisional certificates issued by the ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India, through its COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) platform, to all those who received the vaccine, carry a prominent strip at the bottom with the photograph of Modi along with exhortations in English (“Together We Will Defeat Covid-19”) and Hindi (“davai bhi aur kadai bhi“, “medicines as well as rigour”).

One of the MCC’s stipulations is that “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”.

The MCC is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections to ensure free and fair polls. It is also to ensure that parties in power do not get any undue advantage by announcing measures that could potentially influence voters. This is in keeping with Article 324 of the constitution, which gives the Election Commission the power to supervise elections to the parliament and state legislatures.