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'Lacunae' in EC's Covid guidelines for counting agents: TMC to EC

Lacunae in ECs Covid guidelines for counting agents: TMC to EC
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KOLKATA: A day after the Election Commission made submission of Covid negative reports mandatory for candidates or their agents for being allowed inside counting halls, the TMC on Thursday alleged that the poll body's order had several 'lacunae'. The party said it was 'surprising' that the directions were not applicable for polling officers and Central Armed Police Forces'' (CAPF) personnel.

"The directions mandate submission of a negative test report of COVID-19 of election agent, counting agent and/or candidate prior to such election agent, counting agent and/or candidate being permitted to enter the counting hall. However, surprisingly no such provision has been made for submission of negative test report of COVID-19 by polling officers present in the counting halls," the TMC said in a letter to the poll panel.

A four-member delegation comprising senior leaders Subrata Mukherjee, Sougata Roy, Chandrima Bhattacharjee and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien in their letter further raised concern over the absence of similar provisions for 23,000-24,000 odd Central Armed Paramilitary forces (CAPF) personnel, who will be deployed outside the counting halls. "ECI seems to be oblivious to the safety of the life and health concerns of the CAPF personnel," the letter read.

"The directions had stated that postal ballots, if required, may be counted in a separate hall under the supervision of returning officer/assistant returning officers. However, it is of utmost importance that the counting of votes cast by postal ballots should be completed before the counting of votes cast on the EVM machine. Due to the large number of votes cast in postal ballot in view of the ongoing pandemic the postal ballot counting will require additional time and therefore the same should be counted before the counting of votes on the EVM machines," TMC urged in its letter.

TMC urged the Commission to look into these issues.

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