The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has denied giving permission to put up Manmohan Singh's photograph on billboards on national highways across India.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had decided to put up nearly 1,500 billboards - one every 25 km - with photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Congress president has already asked NHAI to not use her photograph.
The PMO has also asked the cabinet secretary to ask all the ministries and departments of the government to not use the prime minister's photograph without their approval.
The revelation came on an application filed by Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who asked the PMO whether the NHAI had sought permission for putting up the prime minister's photograph on highways.
“The cabinet secretary has been requested, with a copy endorsed to chairman, NHAI, to suitably reiterate instructions to all ministries/departments of the government of India that the use of the photograph of the prime minister should be done only with the prior approval of the prime minister's office,” the reply by the PMO said.
The PMO also specified that the prime minister's picture cannot be used by any ministry or department without the specific approval of his office.
“The union government should ban photo publicity of living personalities, including all political rulers both in the centre and the state immediately,” Agrawal said.
Besides the pictures, the billboards were planned to have project related information, including its name, the concessionaire and the supervision engineer, date of start and completion of the project, cost and the name and telephone number of the project director.