The Election Commission on Sunday urged political parties to stop celebrations by their workers and supporters as victory processions, dancing in the streets and smearing of gulal by cadres was witnessed in many places based on trends emerging in the polls of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry. The poll panel had earlier ordered a ban on such festivities to guard against the Covid-19 pandemic that is ravaging most parts of the country at this time.
“It has been brought to the notice of the commission that even after the directions/advisories issued by the commission to ban victory celebrations during counting day until the period of MCC (model code of conduct), at some locations in some states, the victory celebrations are being carried out today by the party workers/representatives in contravention of the commission’s directions,” the poll panel said in its notice.
There were videos from Kolkata on social media of Trinamool Congress supporters celebrating the party’s probable victory, with many of them not wearing masks, and their faces covered in green gulal, waving TMC flags.
“The commission has expressed its displeasure on the failure of certain parties to abide by the extant instructions/guidelines,” the EC notice also said.
Celebrations were also witnessed from supporters of the DMK in Tamil Nadu with the party looking set to unseat the AIADMK there. DMK chief MK Stalin urged the cadres to refrain from such activities.
“Victory is definite but no need to celebrate. Be mindful of the pandemic,” he said. “DMK has started a new chapter in history. Let’s protect ourselves and let’s protect the state."
Healthcare experts have warned that political rallies and celebrations may become Covid superspreaders at a time when a more virulent second wave of the pandemic is sweeping through the country.
“The commission has already directed CS/DGP (chief secretary/director general of police) concerned to take penal actions including FIR against the violators in all such cases under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws,” the poll panel notice said.
The Election Commission has received flak from many quarters, particularly for organising a mammoth, eight-phase election in West Bengal. The wife of a Trinamool Congress candidate who died of the coronavirus has filed a murder case against the EC.
The Madras High Court said this week that the Election Commission was “singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid". “Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably," the judges observed.