As the Covid curve and deaths increased, there was hardly a point on the Election Commission’s radar

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The ban on roadshows, vehicles rallies and public gatherings of More than 500 public in West Bengal came here on April 22, an hour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled his 4 rallies scheduled for the subsequent day.

The Madras High Court’s harsh words about the Election Commission (EC) on Monday may have a reason.

A review of the EC’s announcements from February 26, when it set the calendar for five general elections, to April 22, when it severely curtailed campaigning in West Bengal, shows that the violent second wave of Covid it registered was only lightning was his radar.

Ironically, the ban on roadshows, vehicle rallies and public meetings of more than 500 people in West Bengal came on April 22nd, an hour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled his four rallies scheduled for the following day.

This despite the fact that the Trinamool Congress and Congress had submitted petitions to the EC calling on them to end the election campaign and postpone the remaining dates of the elections in West Bengal after the rise in Covid.

Significantly, by February 26, when the poll schedule was announced, the center had already warned at least two polled states (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) of an increase in their new daily cases, but the EC merely reiterated the precautions it was taking had taken. instead, for the Bihar Assembly elections, when the curve was steadily sloping.

A day later, West Bengal was also added to the list of states marked by the center, which are reporting a growing number of new cases.

By March 31, when the last two phases (phases 7 and 8) of the West Bengal elections were reported, cases had been increasing steadily, 982 new infections compared to nearly 320 just 10 days earlier.

Elsewhere, the second wave was furious: a total of 72,330 new cases were reported nationwide, and the daily death toll had risen to over 450 as of March 31. On April 15, however, the EU spokesman rejected any plans to change the election calendar.

On April 16, after the daily caseload exceeded 2 lakh, the EC first recognized an “unprecedented public health situation” and imposed restrictions on campaigns, but on activities between 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm Clock. Teacher: And 10 a. M.

In addition, the rest period for the campaign has been increased from 48 hours to 72 hours before election day for phases 22, 26 and 29 April. On that day there were a total of almost 7,000 new cases in West Bengal.

Merging the remaining three voting phases into one, and Congress had proposed that the vote be postponed until Ramzan. This, Congress argued, would allow time for the new wave to fade. In its replies to both parties on April 21, the EC rejected the proposals, citing legal and resource constraints.

Until then, the daily number of Covid cases in West Bengal was almost 10,000, a 10-fold increase compared to April 1.

A former senior EC official said it was legally possible to merge the last two stages as their notification dates are the same: March 31st.The Public Relations Law stipulates that the time interval between the candidate’s resignation date and the voting date must be at least 14 days. If the Commission had so desired, it could have issued a new communication around the seventh phase of the vote move to the eighth phase or reprogram the last phase and keep it at the seventh phase. This can be done from the date of notification that both phases were the same, ”he said.

However, a senior EC official said that even if it had been legally possible to do so, it would have been a challenge to organize enough armed forces to hold elections to around 70 seats at short notice.

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