Following the complaint filed by the Trinamool Congress, the Election Commission (EC) has directed the Union government to not use Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture on Covid-19 vaccination certificates in states where Assembly elections are scheduled to happen.
According to reports, the Election Commission wrote to the Health Ministry explaining the standing instructions against promoting the party in power using government means when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force. The EC has instructed the ministry to follow the guidelines regarding the vaccination certificates being distributed in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Reportedly, the decision came after the Health Ministry's reply which states that the vaccination drive was an ongoing government initiative that had been in place much before the MCC came into existence. To follow the EC's direction, the Health Ministry will likely have to update the current software in such a way that a filter would mask PM's picture on the certificate.
The complaint filed by TMC claims that the usage of PM Narendra Modi's picture was a "blatant misuse of official machinery" and violated the MCC.
This is not the first time that the EC is taking such a stand. In 2017, the Election Commission had instructed the removal of PM's picture from the PMAY site when Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and UP were about to cast their votes.