PM's photos at petrol pumps violate model code, says Election Commission
The Election Commission today said that photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on hoardings at petrol pumps in poll-bound Goa and on certificates issued by oil companies in Uttarakhand are violation of the Model Code of Conduct and asked the Cabinet Secretary to ensure compliance of its instructions during elections.
In a letter to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, the Commission said it had received complaints about hoardings with photographs of the Prime Minister being displayed at petrol pumps in poll-bound Goa.
It also referred to a news story in a Hindi daily that certificates with the photos of the Prime Minister were being distributed by oil companies to LPG consumers who have surrendered gas subsidy in Uttarakhand.
"This is not permissible under Model Code of Conduct and Election Commission instructions" (issued after schedule for assembly polls to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur was announced on January 4), the letter said.
The Commission has requested Sinha to ensure that its instructions "are brought to the notice of all concerned for strict compliance in letter and spirit."
The poll watchdog has already directed the poll machinery in the five poll-bound states, including Uttar Pradesh, to either cover or remove photographs of political leaders on all hoardings and advertisements that seek to project the achievements of any living political functionary or political party.
The commission gave these fresh directions by reiterating its instructions issued on December 12, 2004 after the chief electoral officer of Goa raised the issue following the announcement of election schedule on January 4.
The poll watchdog said photos in advertisements or hoardings of similar type should also be removed or "covered suitably" so that spirit of its instructions is fully complied with.
The poll panel made it clear that such images or hoardings "undoubtedly amount to their individual/party election campaign at public cost".
Between February 4 and March 8, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur are going for Assembly polls and the Model Code of Conduct came into force on January 4 when the schedule was announced.
Elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Punjab and Goa will go to polls together on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8, with counting to be held on March 11.
The seven-phased UP Assembly polls for 403 constituencies will be held on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
(With PTI inputs)