Kolkata: Owing to the growing cases of the Coronavirus in the poll-bound state of West Bengal, the Election Commission on Thursday banned the poll rallies for the remaining phases of the West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021. Earlier, the Kolkata High Court had warned on the alarming situation saying, “If EC won’t act the court will”.Also Read - Haryana Municipal Polls on June 19, Model Code of Conduct Comes Into Force
In an order, the Election Commission invoked its powers under Article 324 to prohibit roadshows, pad yatras, and cycle/bike/vehicle rallies effective immediately. The Commission also restricted the limit of persons at any public meeting to 500 for the remainder of the Bengal assembly elections. Permission for roadshows or bike rallies, if granted already, stands withdrawn. At the same time, permissions for public meetings, if granted already, will be modified as per the latest order. Also Read - Big Fight After 9 Years: Voting Underway for Guwahati Municipal Polls 2022, 197 Candidates in Fray
The EC also stated in its order that “many political parties/candidates are still not adhering to the prescribed safety norms during public gatherings”. Also Read - Budget 2022: No Need to Defer, EC Would Not Like to Interfere, Says CEC After Announcing Election Dates
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday also expressed dissatisfaction with the Election Commission of India over enforcement of Covid-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal assembly election process, including campaigning. Hearing three public interest litigations (PILs) seeking enforcement of Covid protocol during the elections, a division bench presided by Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan said issuance of circulars and holding meetings on Covid safety were not enough and sought an affidavit by Friday on steps taken to enforce the norms.
The PILs expressed concern that people participating in the ongoing election campaigns were not adhering to Covid norms and expressed apprehension that this may result in a serious spike in Covid-19 cases in West Bengal, which is currently facing up to a second wave of the pandemic.
“We are not satisfied with the materials on record to state that the Election Commission of India and its officers on ground in West Bengal have enforced their circulars,” it said. The court said that the circulars of the ECI show the route map and the protocol for the political parties, their workers, the people at large and responsible management by the officers including the police and other forces under its command.
PM Modi Cancels His West Bengal Tour Tomorrow:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cancels his upcoming Bengal tour scheduled for Friday. PM Modi took to Twitter and wrote, “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.”