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Mar 04, 2021

Bengal: EC Orders Removal of Hoardings, Ads With Photos of PM Modi

The directive came after TMC leaders alleged that the use of Modi's photo on advertisements of various Central schemes and COVID-19 vaccination certificates is in violation of the model code of conduct.
A worker of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rides his bicycle past the party's campaign billboard featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside their party headquarters in New Delhi February 10, 2015. Credit: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files

Kolkata: The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday directed petrol pumps and other agencies to remove hoardings and advertisements on various Central schemes having photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in poll-bound West Bengal as it violates the model code of conduct (MCC), a senior official of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.

These hoardings and advertisements should be brought down within 72 hours.

The directive came hours after a delegation of senior TMC leaders, including Firhad Hakim, met the officials and alleged that the use of Modi’s photo on advertisements of various Central schemes and COVID-19 vaccination certificates, which are being distributed by the Union health ministry, and petrol pumps is violating the model code of conduct. According to the official, the CEO has received over 1,000 similar complaints out of which 450 were found to be genuine.

“We have issued instructions to the concerned officers everywhere in the state to take appropriate measures as per the norms of the ECI [Election Commission of India] as quickly as possible,” the official at the CEO told PTI. “We have received such complaints on cVIGIL. Everybody has to abide by the MCC and people have been directed as to what action is to be taken when MCC is violated,” he added.

Also read: PM Modi’s Photo on COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates Violation of MCC, Says TMC

cVIGIL is a mobile application launched by the ECI for citizens to report Model Code of Conduct and Expenditure violations during elections.

The EC has decided to use vehicles having GPS-based application on polling days to monitor the movement of sector officers and also to communicate with them. “If needed the sector officer can be contacted in emergencies. Their movement can be monitored from the district election office, as well as by the observer and from the CEO here,” he said.

Since Tuesday the EC has seized cash amounting to Rs 25 lakh besides recovering 28,131 litres of liquor having a cash value of Rs 32 lakh. Narcotics worth Rs 30 lakh was also seized, the official said.

The assembly election in West Bengal is scheduled to be held in eight phases, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27, 2021. Counting is slated on May 2, 2021.

There will be over 400 observers for the assembly election and around 170 companies of the Central Armed Police Force will be reaching the state by Monday, he added.

As The Wire analysed recently, India has emerged as perhaps the only country so far whose leader is using vaccination certificates to promote his own politics and cult of personality. Apart from including the beneficiary’s details and other vaccine related-information, each certificate also a prominent banner with the photograph of Prime Minister Modi, along with exhortations in English (“Together We Will Defeat Covid-19”) and Hindi (“davai bhi aur kadai bhi“, “medicines as well as rigour”).

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