Some security personnel on election duty in Noida were served meals in packets labelled ‘Namo Foods’, triggering criticism from the Opposition even after the local police said the packs only displayed the name of a food shop.
The Bahujan Samaj Party said it has complained to the Election Commission.
‘NaMo’ is widely-recognised as the initials of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, previously seen on BJP merchandise and recently as the name of a TV channel.
The packets were brought in the boot of a hatchback and distributed among police personnel in Noida's sector 15A around 9:30 am, while polling was on in the Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency under which the Delhi suburb falls.
Union minister Mahesh Sharma is the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate seeking re-election there.
The packets, coloured in a shade of saffron, had ‘Namo Foods’ emblazoned on top in Hindi. They soon started generating a buzz among curious onlookers.
When contacted in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwarlu said he has already spoken with the district magistrate on the issue.
“It is nothing related to the prime minister as the name of the company itself is Namo," he told PTI.
The Only Thing the BJP Knows How to Do Is Branding and Marketing: Akhilesh Yadav
But the Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav blamed the BJP.
Voters are turning out in large numbers to vote for #MahaParivartan — which perhaps explains this desperate move. Clearly, the only thing the BJP knows how to do is branding and marketing. https://t.co/ByCFcvYPUw— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) April 11, 2019
"Voters are turning out in large numbers to vote for #MahaParivartan which perhaps explains this desperate move. Clearly, the only thing the BJP knows how to do is branding and marketing," he said, quoting a retweet.
The SP's alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party said it has contacted the EC.
"We have already taken it up both at the state level and with the Election Commission," its national general secretary SC Misra said.
Misra also forwarded photographs of the food packets through social media to substantiate his claim.
Meanwhile, several on Twitter too wondered if this was a violation of the model code of conduct.
So I’m reporting from outside sector 15A Noida/ Gautam Buddha Nagar, food platters sent inside poll booth with ‘NaMo Food’ cover on it. Many voters standing in the queue raised an eyebrow at it if it’s allowed while voting is on, if it’s a poll code violation. @dr_maheshsharma ? pic.twitter.com/AoWp4hpWEh— Samia Kapoor (@iSamiakapoor) April 11, 2019
Dear @ECISVEEP— All India Mahila Congress (@MahilaCongress) April 11, 2019
You have a long list of MCC violations to take actions against.
Here is one more.
Ghaziabad goes to polling today and why exactly is @Uppolice distributing food packets with Namo? https://t.co/Psydcej6aq
#NaMo Food Packets taken inside a polling booth through Cops..— Deshbhakt Aarti (@aartic02) April 11, 2019
Modi cares a damn about Model Code of Conduct & broken it repeatedly..
What an Example, a Prime Minister is setting by misusing the Entire System for his Promotion !#LokSabhaElections2019 pic.twitter.com/kHgYrsUMUZ
After Namo Chai— Atul (@secular_arrow) April 11, 2019
It is time for Namo food packete
That too in polling team's car pic.twitter.com/f6peG72xER
NAMO food packets found in Noida are from this shop. pic.twitter.com/YVsPdPRRNF— Kapil (@kapsology) April 11, 2019
Food Packets Not From Political Party: SSP Noida
Election rules ban paraphernalia related to parties or candidates within 200 metres of polling booths.
Earlier, Guatam Buddh Nagar's senior superintendent of police Vaibhav Krishna issued a statement, saying the packets had nothing to do with any political party.
“Misinformation is being spread that some policemen have been distributed food from a political party,” he said.
“This is absolutely wrong. At the local level, some food packets were procured from Namo Food Shop and not from any political party," he said.
"Some people are spreading wrong and politically motivated rumours. There is no official order to procure food from any particular food outlet,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)
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