For a little more than a month now, several states and union territories in India have conducted Assembly Elections under a slew of precautionary measures. Now, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in India, the Election Commission has banned any celebratory public events that might follow the counting of votes.
Over the last few days, numerous political leaders had called for a suspension of public rallies and events even as the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal urged the EC to club the remainder of the eight-phased polls together. With this being denied, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly lashed out at ruling party and the poll body, holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Election Commission responsible for the '"increase in COVID-19 cases". Much like the rest of the country, cases in West Bengal have increased manifold over the last few days.
The Madras High Court on Monday castigated the Election Commission over the COVID-19 second wave in the country, holding it "singularly" responsible for the spread. The court called the poll panel "the most irresponsible institution" and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges.
When counsel for the EC told the judges that all necessary steps were implemented, the bench shot back saying that by allowing political parties to take out rallies and meetings, it (the Commission) had paved the way for the resurgence of the second wave of the deadly virus.
While voting has concluded in all states save West Bengal, the EC has not allowed exit polls to be conducted thus far. As per Election Commission of India, the conducting and publicising of exit polls has been banned till 7.30 pm on April 29. This incidentally is the final day of polling for Bengal.
(With inputs from agencies)