Selfie points with PM Modi at stations, universities, museums. What will EC say?

Installation of selfie-points with the PM’s image is the new government initiative to promote the Modi cult

All selfie points needed to be geo-tagged and a dedicated app was proposed to enable people to upload the selfies (photo: @SELFIEwithMODI/X)
All selfie points needed to be geo-tagged and a dedicated app was proposed to enable people to upload the selfies (photo: @SELFIEwithMODI/X)

Shalini Sahay

Bags of ‘free rations’ and Covid-19 vaccination certificates had earlier carried the photograph of PM Modi. Installation of selfie points with the PM’s image is the new government initiative to promote the Modi cult.

Possibly encouraged by the response to the selfie points used by the Election Commission of India to promote voter awareness, and convinced that citizens are either not proud enough or aware enough of the country’s achievements under PM Modi, universities, the defence ministry (can other ministries be far behind?), and Indian Railways are busy installing selfie points with the PM’s image in the background.

Such selfie points are already in place in several museums in the national capital. Circulars were issued earlier this year to universities by the University Grants Commission and to the armed forces and departments by the defence ministry to set up selfie points.

Central Railways have now confirmed in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query that the pre-approved design of a permanent 3D selfie booth costs Rs 6.25 lakh, while Rs 1.25 lakh is the approved cost of installing each temporary booth. The information was provided in reply to an RTI query filed by retired railway official Ajay Bose.

Responding to the Railways putting up selfie-points, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi posted, “Not a single day goes without someone sharing their ghastly experience while travelling in trains. People are paying more for services even though services are going down the drain… spending crores over selfie points than better facilities. Shame on Central Railway”.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was equally vehement in criticising the exercise. “Absolutely brazen waste of taxpayer’s money by installing Modiji’s 3D selfie points at railway stations. Modi government has not provided drought and flood relief to States. MGNREGA funds for Opposition-ruled States are also pending, but it has the audacity to generously splurge public money on these cheap election stunts.”

Responding to reports in the first week of December about the UGC asking universities and colleges to set up selfie points, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh had said, "Our selfie-obsessed and self-obsessed PM is so insecure in the run up to Lok Sabha polls that he's leaving no stone unturned to save his flailing image."

"First, it was the Army being asked to set up selfie points. Then, he asked IAS officers and other senior govt officials to take out 'Rath Yatras'. Now, he has directed UGC to set up selfie points in all universities," the Congress general secretary had posted on X.

"At the fag-end of 10 years, the people of India are frankly sick and tired of this obnoxious level of self-promotion surpassed only by North Korean dictators,” he had added.

UGC secretary Manish Joshi had justified the selfie points in colleges and universities by stating, "These selfie points will not only serve as a source of pride, but also enlighten every citizen about the transformative initiatives that have propelled India's growth on the global stage. Students and visitors should be encouraged to capture and share these special moments on social media platforms, fostering a sense of collective pride".

The ministry of defence (MoD) too has issued detailed guidelines and indicated that a total of 822 selfie points which “may contain” a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be prepared in a way that “enables the people to get the feeling of being a part of the initiative.”

Some of the suggested locations included war memorials and defence museums, in addition to railway and Metro stations, bus stations, airports, malls and market places, schools and colleges, tourist destinations, and festive gatherings.

All selfie points needed to be geo-tagged, and a dedicated app was proposed to enable people to upload the selfies.

Will the selfie points be allowed to remain once the general election is notified? In 2019, the Election Commission had frowned upon Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s statues in Uttar Pradesh along with statues of elephants, the symbol of the BSP. The EC had then ordered the statues to be covered. How it reacts to the selfie points remains to be seen.

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