At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across India with queues outside hospitals and crematoriums growing longer with each passing day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has announced that he is suspending all his public rallies in West Bengal owing to the health crisis. Gandhi also urged other political leaders to cancel their scheduled rallies to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Interestingly, the announcement came a few days after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee requested the Election Commission (EC) to conduct the remaining phases of the election at once considering the grim situation across the country and the state. The EC, however, has turned down the request, with the BJP supporting the EC.
Rahul Gandhi made the announcement on Twitter. He said, “In view of the Covid situation, I am suspending all my public rallies in West Bengal. I would advise all political leaders to think deeply about the consequences of holding large public rallies under the current circumstances.”
In view of the Covid situation, I am suspending all my public rallies in West Bengal.
I would advise all political leaders to think deeply about the consequences of holding large public rallies under the current circumstances.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 18, 2021
Politicians flouted COVID guidelines
Politicians across parties including BJP and TMC have openly flouted all COVID-19 norms put in place by the Union health ministry while campaigning for the first five phases of the elections.
The norms of social distancing were tossed during the massive rallies and roadshows held by the political parties.
EC curtails campaigning for the last 3 phases
EC has curtailed the timing of the campaign for the remaining phases of the election and extended the silence period to 72 hours for each of the phases.
In its order, the EC said that no rallies, public meetings, street plays, nukkad sabhas, shall be allowed on any day during the days of the campaign between 7 pm and 10 am.
The commission also took a serious view against repeated violations by star campaigners/political leaders/candidates who are supposed to be torchbearers for the campaign against COVID-19, grossly violating COVID-19 protocols, thereby exposing themselves as well as the public to the danger of infection.
West Bengal reported 6,910 new infections and 26 deaths just ahead of the polling in the fifth phase. According to the state health bulletin, the total count of cases has reached 6,43,795. The number of active cases in the state stands at 41,047.
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