President Pranab Mukherjee complains to EC after Congress misuses his photo

The President of India Pranab Mukherjee’s office has complained to the Election Commission of India after it found that the Congress party had used his photographs in some campaign posters in Punjab, where assembly elections are due next month.

The letter, written by the secretary to the President Smt. Omita Paul to the Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Nasim Zaidi, communicated that:

“The President is above party politics and neither his photo nor anything related to him in his capacity as the President can or should be used for any political purposes. All political parties should desist from ever linking the President to any political party in any manner for political goals.”

The Controversy arose when the Ludhiana unit of the Congress put up posters welcoming the daughter of President Mukherjee:

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One such poster (source: Indian Express)

As evident from the poster, Congress introduced Ms. Sharmistha Mukherjee not as a Congress leader who has been campaigning for the party in the state, but as daughter of the President of India, thus linking the President to the ongoing campaign.

Sharmistha Mukherjee had been campaigning actively and aggressively for the Congress, where she has made scathing attacks on AAP, calling the so-called Delhi development model a sham and accusing Arvind Kejriwal of fooling the people of Punjab. She has also accused the SAD-BJP government of making Punjab a drug haven.

With such politically charged atmosphere, it was obvious that the President of India did not want any direct or indirect link to any political party as it will breach the political neutrality that the office of the President is supposed to maintain. It is yet to be seen if the Election Commission penalises the Congress party for the act.

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