West Bengal Elections: Roadshows banned, public meetings restricted as EC revises guidelines for polls amid COVID crisis
Kolkata | Jagran Politics Desk: Amid the massive spike in coronavirus cases across the country, the elections commission on Thursday revised its guidelines for poll campaigning in West Bengal and banned all kinds of roadshows, cycle, bike and vehicle rallies in the state.
Noting that several political parties and candidates are not following appropriate COVID behaviour, the poll body said that only 500 people will be allowed in public meetings, adding that social distancing will have to be maintained.
"The commission has noted with anguish that many political parties and candidates are still not adhering to prescribed safety norms during the public gatherings and this is making difficult for state and district election machineries to the enforce the aforesaid directions fully," the poll body said in its order.
The election commission had on April 16 released its guidelines for poll rallies and public meetings for West Bengal polls amid concerns over coronavirus cases and had extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours.
Though the EC had issued new guidelines, several political parties, including the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Congress-Left combine, had asked the poll body to club the remaining phases in one phase amid the spike in COVID-19 cases.
However, the EC had rejected the idea to club the remaining phases, citing election laws. However, on Wednesday, it issued a warning to all political parties to follow COVID protocols, saying "necessary action" under various laws will be taken if guidelines are not followed.
"The commission, therefore, once again warns that in case parties or candidates do not abide by the laid down COVID protocols during campaign, necessary action under the Disaster Management Act 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 etc. will be initiated immediately by the district authorities and their permission for further campaigns," the EC had warned.
Meanwhile, six phases of assembly elections in West Bengal have ended. Polling for the seventh and eighth phases will be held on April 26 and 29 respectively while the counting of votes will take place on May 2.
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma