Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal, Aariz Aftab, on Wednesday wrote to all recognised national political parties to participate in a meeting on April 16 on matters related to election campaign during the COVID-19 outbreak. The State, which is in the middle of election frenzy, has witnessed an alarming spike in the number of infections and deaths.
In the past 24 hours, the State has witnessed 5,892 new cases and 24 deaths. Despite the alarming rise in cases, political rallies by senior leaders of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are being held every day where the crowd is seen violating all safety protocols.
Plea in HC
In the letter sent to party representatives, the CEO also referred to a writ petition filed before the Calcutta High Court on the same issue. Hearing the petition, the High Court on Tuesday directed the CEO and District Magistrates to ensure strict implementation of COVID-19 protocols. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee had asked the administration to take action against any person violating COVID-19 protocols, whether involved in elections or not.
The CPI(M) has announced on social media that the party has decided to refrain from organising big gatherings during the remaining phases of the Assembly polls. “Instead, emphasis will be laid on door-to-door campaign and on social media-based propaganda,” the party said.
Meanwhile, the campaign for the fifth phase of the Assembly polls ended on Wednesday, 72 hours before 45 seats will go to polls on April 17. A total of 1.13 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes to decide the fate of 342 candidates. Sixteen Assembly seats in North 24 Parganas, eight each in Purba Bardhaman and Nadia, seven in Jalpaiguri, five in Darjeeling and one in Kalimpong district will go to polls in the fifth phase.
On the last day of campaigning, BJP and Trinamool supporters came face to face and exchanged blows at the Baranagar constituency in the northern fringes of the city. Tension prevailed in the area and the supporters of both the parties gathered outside the police station in large numbers.