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West Bengal Elections: EC Calls on Observers to Strictly Enforce Covid Protocols | India News

NEW DELHI: While many political parties have voluntarily curtailed their election campaign in West Bengal in light of the rise in Covid, the Election Commission has once again asked its election observers and officials to not only strictly enforce its updated rules on safe campaigning for Covid, but also to cancel public meetings / rallies and invoke criminal provisions if violations are observed.
In a meeting held by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra via videoconference on Monday, he instructed EC special observers, general observers, the West Bengal electoral director and district election officials to closely monitor the meetings. rallies and rallies before the last two phases of voting for any violations of Covid rules that now require political leaders and candidates to demonstrate by personal example and push all supporters at the start of the rally to wear masks, disinfectants, maintain social distance and follow crowd control measures.
According to the rules, the political parties organizing the rallies and the candidates must provide masks and disinfectants, etc. to the participants and count the cost of the same in the spending limits.
“The CEC insisted that the district election officials or the tellers continue and cancel any public meeting or demonstration in which the breach of the Covid security regulations prescribed by EC is reported in its letter to the party leaders of 16 of April. Such bans would serve as a deterrent to anyone who takes the EC guidelines lightly, ”an official told TOI.
Meanwhile, an EC official said that unilaterally banning rallies and physical campaigns entirely was not a viable option, as the 1951 People’s Representation Law establishes a minimum campaign period of 14 days.
“It is the democratic right of every party to campaign and campaign to reach the voters. Political parties and candidates are free to decide the scope and duration of their own campaigns, and they are now seen to be imposing self-restrictions. These self-imposed curbs are welcome. In any case, there are only six campaign days left. After April 23 at night, the campaign will be limited to only four districts, ”said the official.
EC had banned the night campaign on April 16, rejecting rallies, public gatherings and nukkad sabhas between 7 pm and 10 am on the remaining days of the campaign. One official pointed out that replacing the physical campaign with just a virtual campaign would not help much as crowds would still gather to watch the virtual rally on a screen configured by the political party / candidate.
Additionally, the EC’s restrictions on political congregations would have to be in line with the state’s current Covid rules on mass gatherings.

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