Amid the ongoing Assembly polls in West Bengal, the Election Commission on Thursday (April 22) banned roadshows and vehicle rallies in the state with immediate effect. Expressing concerns over the COVID-19 guidelines being flouted during the poll campaign in West Bengal, the poll body said that no public meeting having more than 500 people would be allowed in the state.
The EC order said the commission has noted “with anguish” that many political parties and candidates are still not adhering to the prescribed safety norms during the public gatherings, therefore, “permission for roadshow, cycle/bike/vehicle rallies, if granted already, stands withdrawn.”
The Election Commission orders came into force from 7 pm on Thursday.
Permission for roadshow, cycle/bike/vehicle rallies, if granted already, stands withdrawn: Election Commission of India— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2021
ECI also notes “with anguish” that many political parties/candidates are not adhering to prescribed safety norms during public gatherings #WestBengalPolls pic.twitter.com/2tS9XFzGH5
Prior to this, the Calcutta High Court had warned on the alarming situation saying, “If EC won’t act the court will”.
PM Modi cancels West Bengal poll rallies on 23rd April
Owing to the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the country, PM Narendra Modi had decided not to address election rallies in West Bengal on Friday.
“Tomorrow will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal,” PM Modi tweeted, effectively ending his campaign in Bengal, which will vote in two more rounds before the election results on May 2.
Amid rising cases, Mamata Banarjee holds massive rally in Dakshin Dinajpur
On the contrary, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee held a huge rally in Dakshin Dinajpur on Thursday. This while, TMC loyalist Derek O’Brien had on April 18 claimed that Mamata Banerjee will not campaign in Kolkata anymore and slashed time for rallies.
New ‘triple mutant variant’ of Covid-19 virus found in West Bengal
Amidst all this, scientists have reported that a new variant of the virus causing Covid-19 has been detected in West Bengal. The ‘triple mutant variant’ (also being referred to as the ‘Bengal strain’ of Covid-19) is reportedly more infectious than other strains. It is the second lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to be identified in India. It is being called ‘B.1.618’, and is mostly circulating in West Bengal. The most recent detection was on March 17.
On Wednesday, Bengal reported 10,784 new coronavirus cases in the state. Total active cases stood at over 63,496.