Chandigarh | Jagran News Desk: As India continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases, calls to ban all political rallies - especially in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur where assembly elections are slated to take place soon - have increased. However, a decision regarding a ban on rallies has not been taken yet with the Election Commission (EC) urging parties to follow all necessary COVID-19 norms during roadshows.

Amid this, the Punjab government has hinted that it might 'ban or restrict' election rallies in the state in order to check the spread of the infectious COVID-19. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Punjab Health Minister Om Parkash Soni said that Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi will soon hold a meet in this regard and take a decision accordingly.

"I think that if we can close schools and colleges then rallies should also not happen. As per the central government’s guidelines, there are no restrictions on rallies. Soon Chief Minister will call a Corona review meeting and will take a decision on it," OP Soni said, as reported by news agency ANI.

Notably, the Allahabad High Court last month had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the EC to ban all political rallies in poll-bound states due to a spike in COVID-19 cases triggered by the new Omicron variant. The court observed "Jaan hain toh Jahaan hain" and said that Omicron could trigger a third wave in India.

"ECI should take strict steps to stop the election meetings and rallies of the parties. Also consider postponing the election, because only if there is life, the world is meaningful," the court had said, as reported by Bar and Bench.

Following this, the poll body held a key meet to review the COVID-19 situation and asked all poll-bound states to step up the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

In India, nearly 2,000 Omicron cases have been reported so far. Experts, including India's COVID-19 Task Force head Dr NK Arora, have warned that a third wave is underway in India, noting that most of the new cases in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are of Omicron.

"India is clearly in the third wave of COVID-19. And the whole wave seems to be driven by a new variant and today it is Omicron," Dr Arora said while speaking to NDTV.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma