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Amid surge in cases, TMC urges EC again to club 3 phases of polls into 1

Amid surge in cases, TMC urges EC again to club 3 phases of polls into 1
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Kolkata: For the second time in the past few days, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has urged the Election Commission to club the three remaining phases of polls into one due to the surge in Covid cases across the state. The sixth phase of polling in Bengal is scheduled to be held on Thursday. The seventh and eighth phases will be held on April 26 and April 29 respectively.

A four-member delegation of TMC comprising Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Pratima Mondal and Purnendu Bose met the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and submitted a memorandum in this regard. "The nation including the state of West Bengal is faced with a gargantuan need to use all its resources to fight the pandemic. Two equally important issues are at stake: the right to life and public health and the right to hold elections. It is pertinent to note that the Constitution of India has empowered the Election Commission of India to make this choice," the memorandum read.

The TMC cited an order of the Calcutta High Court on April 13 where it instructed the state CEO to take urgent steps to address the serious concern at hand and pointed out that it is crucial to avert a deadly disaster that is staring at people in the form of "possible galloping rise in Covid-19 cases."

The Commission has already directed the stoppage of election campaign before 72 hours in each of the phases and banned campaigning from 7 pm till 10 am. "Considering the severe nature of the pandemic, seemingly cosmetic changes like reducing the campaign period is not a holistic solution, as critical human resources of the state will continue to be engaged for election duty. So, we have requested the Commission to integrate the remaining three phases into one and conduct it on the earliest possible date," Roy told reporters after meeting the CEO.

TMC had previously written for the same, stating that the ECI should consider the situation. "Parties and candidates have spent more than 52 days campaigning. No prejudice will be caused if the days are clubbed in one," stated the letter written by TMC to ECI.

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