The Election Commission has dismissed the allegations that food packets with 'Namo' label, served to some security personnel at Noida polling booths violated any rules. The commission said that an inquiry has found that coincidently the shop from where the meals were sourced was called Namo and had a safforn banner.
Thus, there is no need to take any action in the matter, the EC said at a presser at the end of first phase of polling in Lok Sabha elections 2019.
The first phase of polling saw a franchise of 14 crore voters cast their choice to elect 91 MPs across 18 states and two Union Territories today. Votes for all 543 seats would be counted on May 23 after the end of the seven-phase polling on May 19.
The controversy over the packets labelled "Namo Foods" triggered row earlier today as the opposition raised objection and filed a complaint with the election body, even after the local police said the packs only displayed the name of food shop.
"NaMo" are widely-recognised Hindi 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.
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," he said, quoting a re-tweet.
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 S C Misra said.
Election rules ban paraphernalia related to parties or candidates within 200 metres of polling booths.
Misra also forwarded photographs of the food packets through social media to substantiate his claim.
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 inputs from PTI)