TMC leader Derek O’Brien criticized the Election Commission’s new Covid restrictions in a press conference today. “Today the umpire said 7 pm to 10 am no campaigning, this is very suitable to those living in Lutyens bungalows in Delhi,” said O’Brein, taking a jab at the Election Commission’s decision.
“They have breakfast in Delhi, fly down to Kolkata, do some meetings in heat & they will go back. This will expose people to COVID19”, O’Brien further added.
Today the umpire said 7 pm to 10 am no campaigning, this is very suitable to those living in Lutyens bungalows in Delhi. They have breakfast in Delhi, fly down to Kolkata, do some meetings in heat & they will go back. This will expose people to COVID19: Derek O’Brien, TMC https://t.co/qKfhAxb6ho pic.twitter.com/gZgiGj43JG— ANI (@ANI) April 16, 2021
Earlier today, the Election Commission of India issued an order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic during the remaining phases of the assembly elections. The Commission has extended the silence period for rallies, public meetings, street plays, nukkad sabhas, bike rallies or any gathering for campaigning purposes to 72 hours before the end of the polls for Phase 6, 7 and 8 in the state of West Bengal.
In its order, the Election Commission issued a stern admonition to the political parties for occasional violations of the COVID guidelines issued by the poll body during the announcement of the assembly elections for the states of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry.
Taking cognisance of the prevailing unprecedented coronavirus crisis in the country, the Election Commission has asked candidates and political parties to ensure absolute adherence to COVID guidelines in letter and spirit. Violations, if any shall be sternly dealt with and action, including criminal action can be initiated as per the extant legal framework.
The new guidelines will be applicable for the last three phases of assembly elections in West Bengal on 22, 26 and 29 April. The next and fifth phase of polls will take place tomorrow, which means campaigning for it is already over as per existing rules. The elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are already over by 6th April, waiting for the results on 2nd May.
The maximum number of electors per booth has been reduced to 1000 from 1500. Simultaneously, the facilities of casting the postal ballot has been extended to PWD electors, 80+ year old, and COVID-19 suspect/positive patients.
The poll body has mandated the use of masks, face shield, sanitizer, gloves by the polling authorities during the process. Likewise, voters have also been asked to mandatorily wear masks while casting their votes. Stock of reserve masks is kept at the booths for providing to default electors.
Thermal screenings of electors will be conducted by health workers at all polling centers. If anyone has temperature higher than normal temperature, he/she will need to come in the last hour of the poll fixed for COVID-19 patients.