New Delhi: Days after train tickets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo created a furore, the Indian Railways once again came under fire for serving tea on a Shatabdi train in paper cups with PM’s election campaign phrase ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ printed on them.
One of the passengers, retired government officer D.N. Mohanty, who was travelling on the Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi Express, tweeted a photograph of a paper tea cup with ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ written on it in Hindi along with a message of ‘rashtra ki raksha’ (nation’s protection).
Received this message today from a friend who is a retired Govt of India officer: I am now traveling in 12040 Kathgodam Shatabdi. This photo is taken by me. Not once, tea has been served twice in these cups. https://t.co/1fM2LcI0Lq pic.twitter.com/lqJza5811q
— @LutyenHack (@RaisinaLore) March 29, 2019
“I had boarded the train from Ghaziabad on Friday morning when I was offered the first tea in this cup. I ignored but then after an hour, breakfast was served along with tea in the same cups. I got up to see and realised all passengers were served tea in those ‘chowkidar’ cups,” Mohanty told ThePrint.
“I specially went up to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) people and asked for two extra cups. I couldn’t do anything there but thought of putting it up on social media,” he said.
After the photograph of ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ cups went viral, the IRCTC said the cups were immediately withdrawn.
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“There was a private contractor who was given the charge of offering meals in Shatabdi. A fine of Rs 1 lakh has been imposed on the contractor and an explanation has been sought from the supervisor under whom the tea and coffee was served in such cups. The cups have been immediately withdrawn,” said an IRCTC spokesperson.
The IRCTC, which looks after catering services in trains, said the space on 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 from IRCTC for printing advertisements. However, in this case no such approval was taken,” an IRCTC statement said.
Not a first for Railways
This is not the first time that the Railways have come under attack. The Election Commission (EC) had reportedly served a notice to the Railways for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) after pictures of Modi were found on train tickets recently. The Railways withdrew the tickets after the Trinamool Congress raised the issue with the EC.
Some days earlier, Air India had to withdraw its boarding passes after a former DGP of Punjab had tweeted a photograph of his boarding pass featuring pictures of Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Private carrier GoAir also faced criticism for providing boarding passes with Modi’s pictures. The airline withdrew the passes after the backlash, stating the GoAir’s Srinagar airport team had inadvertently utilised unused paper stock of Vibrant Gujarat Summit that took place in January, and that it was “unintentional”.
The code of conduct came into force on March 10 when the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls beginning 11 April.
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