New Delhi: Indian Railways was on Friday left red-faced when photographs of tea cups with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign tagline — ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ (I too am watchman) — served on Kathgodam Shatabdi Express train went viral on social media.
“Aatankwaad se rashtra ki raksha karein (protect my country from terrorism), sainiko ke samman ki raksha karein (protect the dignity of my soldiers), rashtra ke gaurav ki raksha karein (protect the honour of my country),” the cup read.
After several social media users tagged the Election Commission (EC) with pictures of the cups stating that it was a violation of election Code of Conduct, the Indian Railways withdrew the campaign.
The Railways said it was an “unintentional and inadvertent mistake.”
“Reports that tea has been served in cups labelled as ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ have been investigated. This was without any prior approval of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). An explanation has been sought from supervisor/pantry in-charges over dereliction of duty,” IRCTC said in a media statement.
IRCTC further imposed a fine of Rs100,000 (Dh5,319) on the service provider.
“Besides, a show cause notice has also been served to the service provider for this misconduct,” the statement read.
IRCTC also clarified that no prior permission had been taken for printing by the licensee.
“The space in cups and other such materials is used for paid publicity by the licensees as per the agreement. The licensees are supposed to take prior permission for printing advertisements from IRCTC. However, in this case no such approval has been taken,” IRCTC said.
Additionally, the Railway Ministry informed that the paper glasses were immediately withdrawn.
“It did happen today but immediately glasses were withdrawn. Penal action is being taken against the contractor. Action is also being taken against the supervisor,” the Railway Ministry said on Twitter.
Earlier this month, Modi had asked his supporters to take the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ pledge, referring to his role in protecting national interest and fighting graft.
“Your ‘chowkidar’ is standing firm and serving the nation. But I am not alone. Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a ‘chowkidar.’ Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a ‘chowkidar.’ Today, every Indian is saying — #MainBhiChowkidar,” he had tweeted.
As a sign of solidarity with PM Modi, several people added the prefix ‘chowkidar’ to their Twitter handles.
Almost all top BJP leaders, including union cabinet ministers and chief ministers of some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states, added ‘chowkidar’ to their Twitter name.