The Election Commission of India banned on Tuesday all victory processions on May 2, both during and after the counting of votes. Poll results of five states will be declared on Sunday — at a time when the country has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“No victory procession after the counting on 2.5.2021 shall be permissible. Not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned," the EC order said.
BJP chief JP Nadda welcomed the move and tweeted, “I have directed all state units of BJP to strictly adhere to this decision. All karykartas of BJP are using their energies to help the ones in need in this hour of crisis."
I welcome the decision of the ECI banning celebrations and processions of electoral victories. I have directed all state units of BJP to strictly adhere to this decision. All karykartas of BJP are using their energies to help the ones in need in this hour of crisis.— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) April 27, 2021
The poll watchdog has faced flak from several quarters over holding of a month-long polling exercise in the middle of the pandemic. West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has objected to the eight-phase elections in the state and accused the Election Commission of helping the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It has said the watchdog did not even heed its request to merge the last three phases in the state. Besides Bengal, elections were held in three phases in Assam, and a single phase in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.
On Monday, the Madras High Court hit out at the commission for being “singularly responsible" for the second wave of Covid-19 with the country setting grim global milestones in daily cases, and remarked that its officers should probably be booked for murder.
Election Commission sources, however, maintain that the poll panel proceeded with caution all along, first in Bihar last year and then in the four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry. They said while enforcing the Disaster Management Act to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour was the responsibility of the State Disaster Management Authority, the commission invoked its constitutional powers to place curbs on campaigning in Bengal to reduce exposure of people to the virus.
“We were ahead of the curve in ensuring safety of voters and personnel in the pandemic," a functionary said, according to a PTI report.
According to the functionaries, when elections were announced, the pandemic then was at its lowest stage. “The number of new cases in the country in February were hovering around 11,000 new cases a day and all states and UTs had reported a decline in active cases in January-February. The vaccination was in full swing, signs of economic revival were visible,” a functionary told PTI.