Elections at Doorstep, Bengal Fighting Losing Battle Against Covid. TMC Accuses Poll Panel of Laxity

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With assembly elections right on the corner in West Bengal, an internal survey conducted by the state's health department has found that the coronavirus situation in 19 districts is “quite grim” as these places are seeing a steady rise in infections. Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar expressed anger over the lack of measures being taken by the Election Commission to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, Dastidar visited North 24 Pargana's District Governor’s office with candidates of Barasat and Madhyamgram to submit their nominations. She questioned the role of the health observer of the Election Commission, on the very same day.

She said, “Guidelines should have been issued by EC for the Central force officers from others states on compulsory wearing of masks and maintaining social distance. Not only this, the officers who came from Maharashtra should have been kept in quarantine as the state is currently witnessing a major spike in the coronavirus cases.” She alleged that the Election Commission had not issued any specific guidelines on these issues.

Even as she raised questions over following coronavirus norms, most of the TMC leaders, who were present in the rally along with the two candidates, were not wearing masks. None of them was seen maintaining social distance.

The state is witnessing a charged battle between the incumbent TMC and the BJP which is going all out to wrest power. Both parties have been holding star-studded mega rallies with little to no social distancing and blatant flouting of Covid norms.

“The infection rate has increased from 1.35 per cent to 1.78 per cent between March 15 and March 21. There are 19 districts on the list marked as red,” a source told news agency PTI. Further, Kolkata's infection rate has risen to 3.04 per cent from 2.09 per cent during the reporting period, the survey showed.

This comes at a time when the state is headed for assembly elections slated to be held from March 27. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. Meanwhile, the coronavirus caseload of West Bengal went up to 5,81,865 on Wednesday after 462 more people tested positive for the virus, the health department said. Two more COVID-19 fatalities took the death toll in the state to 10,312, a bulletin released by the department said.