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West Bengal Polls: EC Bans Rallies, Public Meetings from 7 Pm-10 Am Due to Rise in Covid Cases

By: Payal Mehta


Last Updated: April 16, 2021, 20:43 IST

Representative Image (News18)

Representative Image (News18)

West Bengal had on Thursday recorded the highest single-day spike of 6,769 COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 6,36,885.

Taking a strong note of the exponentially rising cases of COVID-19, the Election Commission of India on Friday issued stricter guidelines and imposed restrictions on campaigning for the remaining phases of West Bengal Assembly elections. The poll panel curtailed the campaign time by 3 hours upto 7 pm.

The EC order, which restricts the political parties from campaigning between 7 pm-10 am, came into effect immediately, starting today. Further, the silence period before polling has been increased from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three of the eight phases of the West Bengal polls to be held on April 22, 26 and 29. Thus, campaigning will end at 6.30 pm on April 19, 23 and 26 for the 6th 7th and 8th phases respectively.

All the political events scheduled post 7 pm stand cancelled. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had about three town halls and BJP president JP Nadda had two other programmes slated to take place after 7 pm.

The Election Commission also made it mandatory for political parties to provide masks and hand sanitisers to all those attending political rallies or sabhas. The commission further said it will be incumbent on the administration to ensure that the COVID-19 protocol was strictly adhered to. Any violation of these guidelines would lead to the cancellation of such rallies or gatherings, it said. Any appropriate action, as per the law, can be taken against the organisers in case of such violation.

All the star campaigners, political leaders and candidates are encouraged to set a personal example and repeatedly remind those attending the events to follow protocols, including wearing of masks sanitising their hands and maintaining social distance.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission stands unmoved in its stand on not clubbing the remaining phases of elections in West Bengal, as the ruling TMC which raised the demand remained isolated at an all-party meeting on the issue on Friday. There will be no rescheduling of the remaining phases of polling in West Bengal, a senior official in the state CEO’s office said after the meeting.

West Bengal had on Thursday recorded the highest single-day spike of 6,769 COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 6,36,885.

Kolkata, too, registered its biggest one-day surge since the outbreak of the disease, with 1,615 people testing positive for coronavirus. Accordingly, the number of active cases rose to 36,981.

At least five candidates of different parties contesting the ongoing assembly election in West Bengal have tested positive for COVID-19, a health department official said on Friday. Out of the five candidates who tested positive, three are from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and one each from the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said.

RSP’s Jangipur candidate, 73-year-old Pradip Kumar Nandi, tested positive on Wednesday and is now in home isolation, the official said. BJP’S candidate for Matigara-Naxalbari seat Anandamay Barman (38), TMC’s Goalpokhar nominee Mohmmed Ghulam Rabbani, Tapan candidate Kalpana Kisku, and Jalpaiguri candidate Dr.

Pradip Kumar Barma have tested COVID-19 positive, the health official said. According to an official at the CEO, “The candidates who tested positive must immediately stop campaigning. Either they should isolate themselves at their homes or get themselves hospitalised depending on severity of the infection,” he said.

Congress nominee from Samsherganj assembly constituency in Murshidabad district, Rezaul Haque, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died at a hospital here early on Thursday.

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    Assembly polls have been held for 135 constituencies in the state in four phases so far and the remaining 159 seats are slated to go to the polls in four phases between April 17 and 29. Counting is scheduled for May 2.

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    first published:April 16, 2021, 19:22 IST
    last updated:April 16, 2021, 20:43 IST