Eight-phase Bengal polls: Three ex-CECs back election body amid Opposition outcry

KOLKATA: The Election Commission 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 the poll-bound West Bengal as it violates the model code of conduct, a senior official of the CEO said.

It has also directed that such hoardings and advertisements with Modi’s photographs should be brought down within 72 hours, he said.

The directive came hours after a delegation of senior TMC leaders, including Firhad Hakim, met the EC officials and alleged that the use of Modi’s photo on advertisements of various central schemes and COVID vaccination certificates, which are being distributed by the union health ministry and petrol pumps are 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 as quickly as possible,” the official at the CEO told PTI.

“We have received such complaints on cVIGIL. Everybody has to abide by the model code of conduct (MCC) and people have been directed as to what action is to be taken when MCC is violated,” he added.

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 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.

Counting is slated on May 2.

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