Ahmedabad, Dec 5: The Cyclone Ockhi is expected to make landfall in coastal Gujarat by Tuesday midnight and may cause heavy rains in several parts of the state. The Cyclone Ockhi is expected to cross Surat, bringing heavy rainfall in coastal districts of Gujarat, said the Indian Meteorological Department in Ahmedabad. Several political rallies for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections were cancelled following the stormy weather conditions.

Gujarat Chief Minister Rupani cancelled three election rallies in his Assembly constituency Rajkot and rushed to Surat to take stock of the preparedness ahead of Cyclone Ockhi’s arrival. “Entire Surat administration is prepared to deal with any eventualities in case of possible landfall of Cyclone Ockhi. We are focusing on the cyclone, the election is secondary,” he told reporters. The government has decided to keep communication lines open to provide rescue and relief.

Election rallies of several other leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were cancelled in wake of Cyclone Ockhi. PM Modi appealed to BJP workers to extend a helping hand to those that would be likely affected by the cyclone. He also said that he was monitoring the situation arising in various parts of the country due to the cyclone. According to the last forecast released by the IMD Ahmedabad, the cyclone was just 390 km away from Surat.

Cyclone Ochki has claimed lives of 39 people from the state of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Over 167 people are still missing after the cyclone hit both the states on November 30. A total of 220 fishermen in Tamil Nadu, 390 in Kerala and 27 in Lakshadweep have been rescued along with 18 those who were stuck on two merchant craft boats.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission today asked poll authorities in Gujarat to ensure that voters in assembly seats falling in the path of Cyclone Ockhi are able to cast exercise their franchise on December 9 without inconvenience despite inclement weather, reports PTI.

In a letter to the chief electoral officer of Gujarat, the commission said considering the cyclone alert and the scheduled first phase of polls on December 9, “besides making effective arrangements for immediate relief and rehabilitation, adequate, effective and fool-proof arrangements may also be made… Towards the smooth and efficient conduct of the election process”.