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NEW DELHI: An Indian man went to court to complain about Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoting himself as the face of the nation’s Covid vaccination drive — but walked away Tuesday with a fine for wasting the judge’s time. The Hindu nationalist leader has been the focus of a massive advertising blitz touting his government’s triumphs in fighting the pandemic despite nearly 500,000 Indians dying of Covid-19.

His visage has been plastered on billboards and even the side of passenger planes alongside a triumphant message celebrating India’s recent milestone of one billion administered vaccination doses. The campaign is at odds with the fierce criticism levelled at his government since the pandemic began, with political opponents dryly suggesting his face should also be printed on the death certificates of Covid victims.

Modi orders review of reopening on Omicron Covid concerns

Peter Myaliparampil of southern Kerala state had objected to Modi’s face being printed on his vaccine certificate with a message exhorting the public to fight the coronavirus. He told a court that India’s inoculation rollout risked becoming “a media campaign” for Modi’s benefit. In his petition, Myaliparampil said he had paid for his own vaccine and the image of Modi on his certificate “served no utility or relevance”.

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