Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has alleged "blatant misuse of official machinery by the Prime Minister" in West Bengal in a complaint to the Election Commission ahead of state polls later this month.
Bengal's ruling party has cited photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on certificates of vaccination distributed by the Union Health Ministry and accused him of stealing credit from doctors, nurses and healthcare workers and "appropriating their dues".
The certificate confirms that a person has taken the vaccine. Apart from the PM's photo, there is a message on the certificate from him in English and Hindi.
"By placing his photograph, name and message on the provisional certificates issued by the ministry of health and family welfare, he is not only exploiting his post and powers but also stealing commendable credit from the producers of Covid vaccines. He is blatantly appropriating the dues of a vast army of selfless doctors, nurses and health service workers," Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien wrote in the letter to the powerful election body.
"After elections have been declared, the PM is debarred from publicizing his name and claiming credit in this manner through government's Co-WIN platform of vaccination."
Alleging violation of the poll code, Mr O'Brien said the Election Commission must stop the PM from "taking unfair advantage and undue publicity at the taxpayer's cost" during elections.
"This breach of the Model Code of Conduct is glaring and must be stopped with immediate effect," said the Trinamool parliamentarian.
According to sources, the certificates with the PM's face have been issued since day one. All frontline health workers and other beneficiaries who took the vaccine in the earlier phases were given the certificates. However, with elections now due in four states and a union territory, the certificates are causing a snowballing controversy.