The Election Commission on Tuesday called the railways’ approach towards enforcing the model code of conduct “lackadaisical” after allegations that poll norms were violated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on tickets and the slogan “Main Bhi Chowkidar” on teacups.
The poll panel has issued a notice to the railways, asking it to submit a report by Thursday on the slogan on teacups, so that it can take a call on whether it was a poll code violation.
The issue came to the fore after a passenger on the Kathgodam Shatabdi tweeted a picture of teacups with the slogan, the post went viral. The railways said it has withdrawn the cup and penalised the contractor.
On the ticket issue, the EC has reprimanded the national transporter for not taking the code of conduct seriously.
“It has come to the notice of the commission that teacups were provided to the passengers in the train of the Indian Railway by the NGO, namely “Sankalp”, which contained the political slogan of the Bharatiya Janata Party and such matter is closely related to violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” according to the notice.
“The commission, taking cognisance of the incident, has directed that the matter may be looked into immediately and a report may be furnished by 11:00 hours on April 4 that decision may be taken by the commission in the matter,” it said.
In a letter, over the image of Modi on train tickets, the poll panel criticised the railways for non-compliance of its instructions. On March 29, the poll panel had sent a notice to the national transporter on the issue.
The EC said in response to the March 29 notice, the railways had asked for more time.
“The commission expresses its considered displeasure over the non-compliance of the commission’s instructions especially when the Model Code of Conduct is in force and the lackadaisical approach towards enforcing the Code.
“The commission has also decided that disciplinary action be taken against the officer-in-charge and a report be submitted to the Election Commission within a week,” it said.
Sources in the railways, however, said the reply to the notice on the ticket issue had been sent to the EC on April 1 and it has complied with everything. “It was an inadvertent mistake,” a source said.