Goans who get vaccinated before the completion of the assembly elections will not have Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo on their Covid-19 vaccine certificate.
On Sunday, it was announced that the Covid-19 vaccine certificates in the five poll-bound states- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa- will not have Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture because of the Model Code of Conduct that has come into place.
Model Code of Conduct
It is a set of guidelines that political parties and politicians should adhere to during elections. These guidelines are implemented every election cycle when the election schedule is announced by the election commission to ensure free and fair elections.
On Saturday, the Election Commission announced the schedule for assembly polls in the five states and the Model Code of Conduct came into effect. A Health Ministry official said that the ministry will apply some filters on the CoWIN platform to exclude the Prime Minister's photo from Covid-19 vaccine certificates being given to people in five poll-bound states.
According to reports, similar measures were taken during the state assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry last year.
Controversy surrounding PM Modi’s photo on Covid-19 vaccine certificate
Since the beginning, the decision to put PM Modi's photo on the vaccine certificate was highly criticised by opposition leaders and citizens.
Last year, before the West Bengal assembly polls, Trinamool Congress approached the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer to complain about the usage of PM’s photo on the vaccine certificates. They said it was a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and violated the Model Code of Conduct.
In December, Right to Information (RTI) activist Peter M filed a petition in Kerala High Court against the prime minister's photo in the Covid-19 vaccine certificate. In an interview with BBC, he said, "By putting his picture on my certificate, he's intruding into the private space of citizens. It's unconstitutional and I'm requesting the honourable prime minister to stop this wrong, shameful act immediately."
"It's inappropriate in a democracy and of absolutely no use to the nation or any individual," he added.
However, the Kerala HC dismissed the petition, saying, "Modi is our prime minister. You may have political differences. But, I can't understand what is the problem with prime minister's photo on the certificate?"
The judge added, "Why are you ashamed of our PM? 100 crore people do not have any issue with this, why do you? You are wasting judicial time."
When questions were raised in the Parliament, BJP leader and Union minister of state for health and family welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar informed Rajya Sabha that PM Modi's photo along with his quote is included in the certificate keeping in mind "larger public interest". She said, "The photograph along with the message of the prime minister in the vaccination certificates reinforces the message for creating awareness about the importance of following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, in the larger public interest."