The Election Commission is learnt to have issued a show cause notice to the Railways and Civil Aviation ministries over the use of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures on rail tickets and Air India boarding passes as prima facie it violates the model code of conduct.
The code came into force on March 10 when the poll body announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11.
Sources in the poll panel said prima facie the railways and Air India have violated the model code of conduct, and referred to clause VII of the code which states that “issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer … regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided”.
In a complaint to the EC, the Trinamool Congress had recently claimed that the ”…railway tickets issued by the Indian Railways contain achievements of the party in power at the Centre (BJP) with regard to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which is being displayed at the cost of public exchequer and obviously to influence minds of the voters.”
The display of photograph was part of an Urban Development Ministry advertisement campaign. A portion of the back side of tickets is often used for advertising.
The railways had last week decided to withdraw the tickets carrying the photographs of the PM, sources in the ministry said. Nearly one lakh such tickets were printed and a few were remaining in the lot. The ministry is likely to reiterate the same position to EC, they said.
The railways had said all its 17 zones have been directed against using the tickets carrying the picture of the Prime Minister.
A boarding pass issued by Air India had pictures of PM Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The airline had said the passes featuring the photographs, which were third-party advertisements, would be withdrawn if they were found to be in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant on Monday tweeted a photograph of his boarding pass issued at the New Delhi airport, questioning how pictures of the two leaders could be on it. An Air India spokesperson earlier said the boarding passes seemed to be the ones printed during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit held in January and the photographs were part of the advertisement from ‘third parties’