On Massive UP Rallies Amid Covid Surge, Election Commission’s Response

On Massive UP Rallies Amid Covid Surge, Election Commission’s Response

Political Parties have raised violation of Covid norms in rallies, the poll panel said. File

Lucknow:

Election rallies underway in Uttar Pradesh and the violation of distancing norms there are the responsibility of the state government and the Election Commission will take over only after poll dates are announced, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said today.

“Our responsibility begins after poll dates are announced and the model code of conduct kicks in. Till then, the responsibility lies with the state government and they would act as per recommendations of the state disaster management authority,” Mr Chandra said in response to a query on whether the commission will take any steps regarding the ongoing poll rallies that are being held in blatant violation of Covid norms.

“We have held discussions with the health secretary and other officials and we will definitely issue detailed guidelines once elections are announced,” he added.

All political parties in the country’s most populous state have said the upcoming Assembly elections should be held on time while ensuring Covid protocol, the Chief Election Commissioner announced today.

Mr Chandra said political parties in the state have raised the violation of Covid norms in rallies and asked for curbs to be put in place.

Listing steps being taken to prevent a surge in infections after the polls, the Chief Election Commissioner said voting time will be extended by an hour and 11,000 booths added to ensure distancing. Detailed guidelines will be issued soon, he said.

Frontline poll workers will be fully vaccinated, Mr Chandra said, adding that directions have been issued to ensure that every voter in the state has received at least one dose of vaccine. The Chief Election Commissioner later clarified to NDTV that no one would be barred from voting if they were not vaccinated

“UP officials have told us that 50 per cent of population is fully vaccinated and that only four Omicron cases have been reported in the state so far,” the Chief Election Commissioner said.

Uttar Pradesh reported 118 new Covid cases yesterday. The number of active cases in the state stands at 473.

Assam Press